Worth it? A faster transplant but a kidney with hepatitis C
A bold experiment is giving some patients a chance at cutting years off their wait for a kidney transplant if they agree to a drastic-sounding option — getting an organ almost sure to infect them with hepatitis C.
Betting on new medications that promise to cure hepatitis C, two leading transplant centers aim to use organs that today go to waste.
Pilot studies are underway at the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University to test transplanting kidneys from deceased donors with hepatitis C into recipients who don’t already have that virus.
“We always dreaded hepatitis C,” said Dr. Peter Reese, a Penn kidney specialist who is helping lead the research. “But now hepatitis C is just a different disease,” enough to consider what he calls the trade-off of getting a new kidney years faster but one that comes with a hopefully treatable infection.