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Transplantation. 2002 Feb 27;73(4):582-7.

The outcome of liver grafts procured from hepatitis C-positive donors.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.



The growing prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in the general population has resulted in an increased frequency of potential organ donors that carry the virus. The survival of grafts from HCV+ donors has not been studied in detail.


Two study populations were examined retrospectively to assess the survival of liver grafts procured from HCV+ donors. First, we evaluated the survival of all 13 HCV+ and 103 HCV- grafts that were transplanted at our institution to HCV+ recipients from January 1, 1995 to December 31, 1999. In parallel, we analyzed a subset of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) liver transplant database from the same 5-year time period that was comprised of 14,195 adult patients for whom donor and recipient HCV serologies were known. Kaplan-Meier graft survival for both patient populations was calculated based on donor and recipient HCV serologic status. A Cox proportional hazards analysis was performed on UNOS data to identify variables independently predicting graft survival.


For transplants performed at our institution, we found no statistically significant difference in the Kaplan-Meier graft survival of HCV+ and HCV- grafts transplanted to HCV+ recipients (P=0.68). The incidence of biopsy-proven, recurrent HCV posttransplant was similar in recipients receiving either HCV+ or HCV- grafts (4/13 vs. 18/103, chi-square P=0.211). Analysis of UNOS data revealed that the survival of HCV+ grafts in HCV+ recipients was equivalent to the survival of HCV- grafts in HCV+ recipients. Unexpectedly, the survival of grafts in HCV+ recipients in general was significantly inferior to that of grafts in HCV- recipients. Multivariate analysis of all patients found recipient but not donor HCV status to be independently predictive of graft survival.


Analysis of data from a single center and the national UNOS database suggests that transplantation of liver allografts from HCV+ donors to HCV+ recipients results in graft survival comparable to HCV- grafts transplanted to HCV+ recipients. In contrast, recipient HCV positivity is an independent predictor of graft failure compared with patients transplanted for other causes of liver disease.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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