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Hundreds of Donor Kidneys Tossed Away Each Year
Date:4/1/2010

But organs infected with hepatitis C are fine for patients with the disease, study finds

THURSDAY, April 1 (HealthDay News) -- Every year, hundreds of kidneys are thrown out because they may be infected with hepatitis C, but they could help many hepatitis C-infected patients waiting for a transplant, Johns Hopkins researchers report.

In fact, since 1995, more than 3,500 kidneys infected with hepatitis C were thrown away. Using hepatitis C-infected kidneys has been controversial, in part due to a 1 percent difference in one-year survival and a 2 percent difference in three-year survival among these patients, the researchers noted.

"Patients with hepatitis C who have kidney failure could very much benefit from these kidneys from hepatitis C-positive donors," said lead researcher Dr. Dorry L. Segev, an associate professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins.

Of the more than 3,500 kidneys thrown away, more than 1,000 came from "what would be considered perfect donors," he said.

The small risk of a hepatitis C-positive patient dying after receiving a hepatitis C-infected kidney is offset by the risk of waiting for a hepatitis C-free kidney, Segev added.

The report is published in the March 31 online edition of the American Journal of Transplantation.

For the study, Segev's team looked at data on 93,825 kidney donors from 1995 to 2009. The researchers found that kidneys infected with hepatitis C were 2.5 times more likely to be discarded than kidneys without the infection.

Since 1995, 3,562 hepatitis C-infected kidneys have been lost, the researchers noted. Many of these hepatitis C-infected kidneys would have been perfectly suited to people already infected with the disease who are on dialysis and the kidney transplant list, Segev said.

Segev's group found that one-third of the transplant centers in the United States do not use any kidneys infected with hepatitis C for
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