BOSTON – There was no sign of HCV infection more than a year after 10 patients at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, received kidneys from HCV-infected donors.
The patients were treated with prophylactic direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) before and after the procedure. Low levels of hepatitis C RNA were detected shortly after transplant in five patients, but it became undetectable within a week. None of the patients developed any clinical signs of chronic hepatitis C infection, and the transplanted kidneys functioned well.
The number of organs from HCV–infected people is on the rise because of the opioid epidemic. Organ donations from drug overdoses used to be rare, but about 10% of transplanted organs are now from an overdose death, and about 30% of people who overdose have HCV. “These are young people who could donate hearts, lungs, and kidneys, and their parents and families want them to be able to make that gift of life,” said lead investigator Christine Durand, MD, of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.
DAAs make that possible because they cure HCV. “If the success of these transplants continues, it could pave the way for other hepatitis C–positive organs, including hearts and livers, to be transplanted as well,” Dr. Durand and her colleagues said infrom Johns Hopkins.
The 10 patients were over age 50 years, with a mean age of 71 years, and had been on the kidney transplant list for an average of 4 months. The HCV-positive donors were 13-50 years old with no evidence of kidney disease (Ann Intern Med. 2018 Mar 6.)..
Each recipient received a dose of grazoprevir/elbasvir (Zepatier) before transplant and stayed on the medication daily for 12 weeks postop. Three patients also took a daily dose of sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) because of the strain of HCV in the donor kidney. Maybe 8 weeks of treatment, or even 4, is enough, Dr. Durand said at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.