A new study has revealed that heart transplant from donors with Hepatitis C is possible and that the one-year survival rates are the same as those who received a heart from donors that did not have the virus. The study which involved almost 7,900 adults with heart failure saw patients get a heart transplant across 128 medical centers in the U.S. 4% of the total number received hearts from donors that had been living with Hepatitis C. One year after the transplant was done, the researchers say that 90% of patients who received hearts from hepatitis C donors and 91% of patients who received from donors without the virus are still alive.
The researchers said in the Journal of the American Heart Association that the two groups had almost the same rates of drug-treated organ rejection, kidney dialysis, and stroke to flush toxins from the blood. These findings are quite encouraging considering the current shortage of organs in the U.S. Before this time most medical professionals did not think it was safe to use an organ from a donor with hepatitis C, a viral infection that affects the liver.
The co-director of the Center for Cardiovascular Outcomes and Innovation at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Dr. Arman Kilic has given his take on the findings of the research. “The findings are encouraging and we hope that the results will bring about a change in our ability to help as many people as possible who need a transplant. We believe that we can meet the demand for heart transplantation when there are more donor supplies,” he said.
Dr. Kilic, who is also the lead author of the study added that they expect more centers across the U.S. to be willing to accept hearts from hepatitis C-positive donors and use them for patients in need of a transplant. In the United States, there are more than 6 million people with heart failure and the number continues to rise every year according to the American Heart Association.
Statistics show that more than 900,000 new cases are reported annually. There are mild and severe cases of heart failure and the treatment recommended depends on the extent of damage to the heart. For mild cases, there is often no need for a transplant as lifestyle changes and medications may be able to improve the condition of the heart. For serious cases, however, a transplant is recommended to keep the individual alive. The researchers said that the study had a number of limitations. Foremost among them was a lack of information about the type of hepatitis C infection that donors had. They had a hard time finding information on the type of treatment that was administered on the patients in the past.
The researchers also said that it was difficult to know if those who received the organ from donors later developed hepatitis C. While the results of the study shed new light on heart transplantation, critics have said that it was limited to only one-year survival and included a very small number of heart recipients from Hepatitis
For now, the researchers are not certain of what will happen in the coming years to the heart recipients but they are surely doing just fine.