“With the opioid crisis, unfortunately, there have been more overdose-related deaths and some of these patients do donate organs,” said Anwar. “Some of these organs may be hep C-positive, but since the donors are young, the livers are still in very good condition and can be used for transplants.”
Nationally, there are 13,000 patients waiting for liver transplants. In 2019, 133 liver transplants were performed at UC Medical Center, said Shah.
“This is the largest study of liver transplantation published in North America,” said Shah. “This is the first one published for liver transplant patients proving you can do this safely and that’s why we wanted to get it out there.”
The median age for individuals receiving a HCV-positive liver in the study was 60, while for the control group the media age was 57. Median donor age was 37. Most of the participants in both groups were white males. Individuals needing treatment for hepatitis C received it 47 days after transplantation.
Shah said physicians wanted to make sure there were no complications from the liver transplant and they also needed to wait for insurance companies to cover the cost of hepatitis C medications, which typically consists of a 12-week regimen of an HCV protease inhibitor.
“With the excellent results that we demonstrated in this study, we have made this a standard of care at UC Medical Center to offer these organs to our patients,” said Anwar.
Other co-authors of the study include Tiffany Kaiser, PharmD, UC associate research professor; Khurram Bari, UC associate professor and UC Health physician; Michael Schoech, MD, UC assistant professor and UC Health physician; Tayyab Diwan, MD, associate professor and UC Health surgeon; Madison Cuffy, MD, UC assistant professor and UC Health surgeon; Ralph Quillin, MD, UC assistant professor and UC Health physician; Latifa Sage Silski, MD, UC assistant professor and UC Health physician; and Kamran Safdar, MD, UC associate professor and UC Health physician.
The study was funded by the UC College of Medicine.
Featured image at top: University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand.