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Listing Practices and Graft Utilization of Hepatitis C–Positive Deceased Donors in Liver and Kidney Transplant


May 6, 2019

The opioid epidemic has resulted in increasing the incidence of hepatitis C virus in the general population and more deceased organ donors with hepatitis C in the United States. We aim to describe how the changing donor landscape affects patterns of liver and kidney transplantation among donors, waitlist candidates, and transplanted recipients.


Using data supplied by the United Network for Organ Sharing, we examined donor hepatitis C virus antibody (Ab) and nucleic acid testing (NAT) status, center waitlist patterns, and liver and kidney transplants and discards between 2015 and 2017 by 6-month periods.


We observed an increase in donors with any marker of the hepatitis C virus (n = 283 [6.2%] in period 1 to n = 384 [7.4%] in period 5, P = .008) and antibody positive nucleic acid testing negative donors (n = 81 [1.8%] in period 1 to n = 131 [2.5%] in period 5, P < .001). We observed a significant increase in aviremic recipients of liver transplants from antibody positive nucleic acid testing negative donors (n = 1 [1.7%] in period 1, to n = 27 [31.0%] in period 5, P = .005) and a significant decrease in the antibody positive nucleic acid testing positive liver discard rate (P = .01). By the end of the study, 75.8% (n = 97) of recipients of antibody positive nucleic acid testing negative kidneys were hepatitis C virus negative, an increase from 10.6% (n = 5) in period 1.


The number of donors with the hepatitis C virus is increasing. We observed a concomitant increase in the transplantation of kidneys and livers from aviremic donors, and the recipient population of these organs is increasingly hepatitis C virus negative.

Published in ScienceDirect: "Surgery: Volume 166, Issue 1, July 2019, Pages 102-108"