Organ transplantation and hepatitis C: new perspectives

Patients with severe heart disease, and who no longer respond to treatments, are usually referred for a heart transplant.

For this procedure, it is required that the heart is healthy so that the surgery can be done safely, without offering risks to the recipient.

Among the infections that can compromise the heart, making it unfit for donation, is hepatitis C , caused by a virus (HCV).

The infection is treated, but leaves antibodies or remnants of the virus in the body, which can cause reactions in those who receive the contaminated organ or blood.

The organs of patients with hepatitis C are not always discarded, because if the recipient also has the disease, there may be compatibility. But this already greatly reduces the chances of transplantation.

However, new research published in the monthly journal American Journal of Transplantation has shown important results to prove that depending on the clinical picture it is possible to extend the donation also to patients without hepatitis C.

Read more: Organ and Tissue Donation: what it is, how it works, campaigns

How was the study done?

The researchers conducted a clinical analysis based on 10 patients from the University of Pennsylvania Health System who would receive the hearts of donors with hepatitis C.

3 days after the transplant, all patients were diagnosed with the virus, which was already expected by doctors.

Then began a series of treatments based on antiviral drugs Zepatier , used to treat the disease.

During this process, one patient suffered from rejection of the transplanted organ and died, however, all the other 9 had their health status restored and the treatment was effective in curing hepatitis C.

The future after research

The time that is expected for a transplant can aggravate the case of patients who wait, in queues, for a compatible donor.

New discoveries open the possibility to reduce the wait and give more expectation to those who depend on a new organ.

Along with the results for the heart, the same team plans to study the chances of applying the research to lung donation.

But, according to the researchers, larger studies are still needed to verify the safety of transplantation with hepatitis C and the long-term effects.