Donated organs from people who were infected with the hepatitis C virus can be safely transplanted, according to the latest in a line of studies that are building a case for using these organs.
Typically, these organs have been discarded because of concerns about spreading the viral infection. But a study of heart and lung transplants published Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine finds that new antiviral drugs are so effective that the recipients can be protected from infection.
And, as another sad result of the opioid epidemic, organs for donation increasingly carry the hepatitis C virus. People who use injected drugs and share needles are at high risk of hepatitis C infection.
These organs represent a resource the transplant surgeons at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston didn't want to go to waste. They decided to run a study to see whether the organs could be safely transplanted.
Mike Caldwell volunteered. Seven years ago, he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He had worked for many years rehabbing concrete floors and hadn't worn a face mask as cement dust and chemicals swirled around him. He also smoked.
This is an important development. I have a friend with Hep C and a relative who needed a transplant. The more organs available the better. You do have to wonder about those additional drugs and their impact, however