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It’s now safe (enough) to transplant organs from patients with hepatitis C to patients who don’t

Posted Thursday, April 18, 2019 by Tyler Goldberg-Hoss

If you are fortunate, you are not on a waiting list for an organ transplant. Unfortunately, more than 100,000 people in the United States are not so lucky. For them, the wait for an organ to become available can be deadly. For heart and lung transplants alone, about 1,000 people a year die just waiting.

Until science comes up with a way to manufacture, grow, or otherwise create new organs, or our society decides it’s ok to buy and sell them, doctors and others in the medical community are trying to figure out ways of increasing supply. One such way is to use otherwise suitable organs from donors with hepatitis C.

In the past, doctors would only transplant such organs into patients who also already had the virus. The thinking was that they did not want to give a hepatitis-free patient that disease in addition to the donated organ.

However, with recent developments in curing hepatitis C, surgeons have started doing this: transplanting infected organs into uninfected patients. Some are waiting for the patient to successfully receive the organ and then treat them for the hepatitis C. However others are attempting to prevent the recipient from getting it in the first place by giving them medication within hours of the transplant in hopes of blocking the infection in the first place.

While the ability to prevent infection – or cure it – in recipient patients is not zero, the risk is worth many on the transplant list.

You can read more about this here:

Certain transplants safe with hepatitis C infected organs, study finds

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