John Hopkins logoIt seems that in the US more than half of the donor kidneys infected with hepatitis C have been thrown away despite hepatitis C patients being in urgent need of the organs. The study conducted by John Hopkins suggests that these Hepatitis C patients die in line waiting for the hepatitis C-negative organs to arrive. The scientists are of the opinion that if hepatitis C-positive patients receive hepatitis C-positive organs, they may be able to avoid the risk of waiting for a hepatitis C-negative kidney.

Apparently, about 12 percent of the population is made up of hepatitis C-positive patients with kidney failure. These patients are at an added risk of dying despite dialysis, when compared to those without the virus.

Senior scientist, Dorry L. Segev, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine remarks that, “Nationwide, kidneys from infected donors are inappropriately thrown out and denied to patients in need. Many transplant centers don’t use these kidneys at all, effectively consigning hepatitis C-positive patients to an average unnecessary wait of a year longer for an uninfected organ.”

This wait for an extra year implies being on dialysis for that long, which may increase the risk of death by 10-15 percent. However, there seem to have been controversies about using hepatitis C-positive kidneys in the past. The controversies may have been fueled owing in part to a 1 percent difference in one-year survival for patients who receive the infected kidneys and a 2 percent difference in three-year survival. According to Segev, this difference can easily be covered by getting off dialysis sooner.

The team studied data from more than 93,000 deceased kidney donors between 1995 and 2009. It was discovered that hepatitis C-positive kidneys were two and a half times more likely of being disowned, when compared to hepatitis C-negative kidneys. Seemingly, more than 3500 hepatitis C-kidneys have been discarded since 1995.

Segev comments that, “That’s a lot of kidneys we could have transplanted into people who need them.”

Study indicates that around 4800 hepatitis C patients got hepatitis C-negative kidneys. He explained that by using hepatitis C-positive kidneys in people who are infected with the virus, it could help patients with hepatitis C and in turn accelerate organ supply for everyone. The study also revealed that almost one-third of the nation’s transplant centers did not use hepatitis C-positive kidney for hepatitis C patients. Whereas it was noted that 13 percent transplanted more than half their hepatitis c patients with hepatitis C-positive kidneys.

The study was published online in the American Journal of Transplantation.