According to a new Penn Medicine study, kidneys from donors who were infected with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) function just as well as uninfected kidneys throughout the first year following transplantation. Fascinating, we agree. Another study published today in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology also revealed a threefold increase in the number of transplant centers using HCV-infected kidneys and a major change in how the organs are allocated. We share with you today news and details from the recent study in order to enhance your understanding.
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Safety and efficacy of transplanting HCV-infected kidneys
For decades, most HCV-infected organs in the United States were discarded partly because of concerns that the organs were associated with significantly lower survival rates. However, in recent years, the emergence of new antiviral treatments, coupled with the growing need for kidney transplants, prompted the launch of new studies to test the safety and efficacy of transplanting HCV-infected kidneys into patients on the waitlist who did not have the virus. The studies, including a trailblazing clinical trial launched by Penn Medicine in 2016, revealed that the use of HCV-infected kidneys when followed by antiviral therapy, can actually lead to very good transplant outcomes for patients.
Calculated risks turned into striking successes
A team of researchers, led by Reese and Vishnu Potluri, MD, MPH, an instructor of Nephrology at Penn, analyzed national transplant registry data to examine the use of HCV-infected kidneys between April 2015 and March 2019. They were able to measure how well the kidneys functioned compared to uninfected kidneys and in the end concluded HCV-infected kidneys functioned similarly to uninfected kidneys. In addition, the team even found transplant centers and patients that were increasingly willing to accept the organs to test their calculated theory. An astonishing success it was, without a doubt.