Background: 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. Given the significant disparity between organ supply and demand for transplantation, it becomes essential to consider whether livers from anti-HCV-positive donors may be considered suitable for transplantation.
Methods: Based on a multicenter European database, 694 patients with HCV-related cirrhosis underwent liver transplantation and 11% of them received the graft from anti-HCV-positive donors. Of this group, we selected 63 patients (study group) and, after a 1:1 case-control approach, compared them with 63 patients that received an anti-HCV-negative donor graft (control group). Only grafts with preperfusion liver biopsy results with a fibrosis score of not more than 1 were used for transplantation.
Results: Patients who received anti-HCV-positive grafts had a cumulative survival rate of 83.6% and 61.7% at 1 and 5 years, respectively, vs. 95.1% and 68.2% for the control group. In comparing overall patient and graft survival, there was no statistically significant difference between the two groups (P=0.22 and 0.11). Recurrence of hepatitis C tended to be more rapid in the group of patients who received anti-HCV-positive grafts, although it did not reach statistical significance (P=0.07).
Conclusions: We do not recommend the indiscriminate use of anti-HCV-positive donors, especially if HCV-RNA positive, as the use of this kind of graft could be linked to an advanced stage of fibrosis, the main risk factor we observed for earlier hepatitis C recurrence.