The effect of pulsatile pump perfusion on hepatitis C transmission in kidney transplantation: A prospective pilot study

Clin Transplant. 2020 Aug;34(8):e13987. doi: 10.1111/ctr.13987. Epub 2020 Jun 16.


With increasing utilization of hepatitis C (HCV) viremic donor organs, there may be a role for kidney pump perfusion to reduce viral load and prevent HCV transmission. We performed a prospective pilot study of HCV viremic donors; one kidney from each donor pair was pumped with perfusate exchanges and viral load testing at least every 4 hours. Donor, recipient, and transplant characteristics were obtained with clinical outcomes. Linear regression was performed to quantify the association between pump time and perfusate viral load. Six HCV viremic donors for six pairs of aviremic recipients were included. Perfusate of the pumped kidneys showed detectable virus throughout the pump cycles. Although perfusate viral levels decreased with increasing pump times, this was not statistically significant (β = -.48, P = .36). All recipients had detectable HCV RNA postoperatively. The pumped cohort had an insignificantly reduced mean viral load compared to pumped recipients (1352 ± 2006 vs 26 170 ± 61 211, P = .09). Time to initiation of direct-acting antiviral was 32 ± 12 vs 26 ± 7 days (P = .17) and to undetectable levels was 66 ± 27 vs 55 ± 22 days (P = .82) for the pumped and unpumped cohorts, respectively. Pulsatile perfusion alone does not appear adequate to decrease HCV transmission. Future studies will need to explore additional ex vivo interventions to pumping.

Keywords: antibiotic: antiviral; infection and infectious agents; kidney (allograft) function/dysfunction; organ perfusion and preservation; viral: hepatitis C.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Hepacivirus
  • Hepatitis C* / drug therapy
  • Hepatitis C* / prevention & control
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Perfusion
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulsatile Flow
  • Tissue Donors


  • Antiviral Agents