During the study period, some 4,800 hepatitis C patients got hepatitis C-negative kidneys. "Using hepatitis C-positive kidneys in people who are infected with the virus could help those with hepatitis C and also expand the organ supply for everyone," Segev said.
Among patients with kidney failure, about 12 percent are infected with hepatitis C. These patients are at increased risk of death on dialysis compared with those without the virus, the researchers said.
In addition, these patients who are waiting for a non-infected kidney wait longer for a transplant -- more than a year longer than other patients, increasing their risk of dying 10 percent to 15 percent during the extra year of waiting, Segev noted.
Segev pointed out that some people think hepatitis C-infected kidneys can be successfully transplanted into patients without hepatitis C. "We are not advocating that," he said.
"We are strictly advocating the fact that there are thousands of perfectly good hepatitis C kidneys that are thrown away, while hepatitis C-positive recipients are sitting there on the waiting list incurring a huge risk of dying while waiting for a different organ," Segev said.
Dr. David Roth, the Wm. Way Anderson Professor of Nephrology and medical director of renal transplantation at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said the types of kidneys used for transplant have been expanded.
"In this day and age we look really hard at different types of groups of organ donors, because there are so many people on the list that we have extended the boundaries of what might have been considered an acceptable or unacceptable kidney," Roth said.
There are patients infected with hepatitis C that "could benefit in yea
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