BACKGROUND: Hepatitis C (HCV) donors are rarely used for cardiac transplantation due to historically poor outcomes. In 2015, nucleic acid testing (NAT) for viral load was added to the routine work-up of organ donors, allowing for the distinction between subjects who remain viremic (HCV Ab+/NAT+) and those who have cleared HCV and are no longer viremic (HCV Ab+/NAT–). The American Society of Transplantation recently recommended that HCV Ab+/NAT– donors be considered non-infectious and safe for transplantation. We present our initial experience with such donors. METHODS: All patients were counseled regarding donor HCV antibody (Ab) and NAT. Transplant recipients were tested post-transplant at 1 week and at 1, 3, and 6 months for HCV seropositivity and viremia. We also analyzed the UNOS database to determine the potential impact of widespread acceptance of HCV Ab+/NAT– organs. RESULTS: Fourteen HCV Ab‒ subjects received hearts from HCV Ab+/NAT– donors in 2017. Over a median follow-up of 256 (192 to 377) days, 3 patients developed a reactive HCV Ab, yet none had a detectable HCV viral load during prospective monitoring at any time. Analysis of the UNOS database for the calendar year 2016 revealed that only 7 (3%) of 220 HCV Ab+/NAT– donors were accepted for heart transplantation. CONCLUSIONS: We have demonstrated the feasibility of utilizing HCV Ab+/NAT– donors for cardiac transplantation without recipient infection. A small percentage of recipients developed HCV Ab without evidence of viremia, possibly consistent with a biological false reactive test, as has been seen in other settings. Large-scale validation of our data may have a significant impact on transplantation rates.
- heart transplant
- hepatitis C
- nucleic acid testing
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine