Transplantation of kidneys from HCV-positive donors: A safe strategy?

Fabrizio Fabrizi, Suphamai Bunnapradist, Giovanna Lunghi, Paul Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection is the most important cause of liver disease after renal transplantation (RT). The impact of HCV on patient and graft survival after RT remains controversial; however, the great majority of studies with large size and adequate follow-up have shown the detrimental impact of HCV on long-term patient and graft survival after RT. The use of kidneys from anti-HCV positive donors could help decrease the continuing disparity between the number of patients on the transplant waiting list and the number of patients receiving a transplant each year. Single-center experiences have suggested transplanting kidneys from anti-HCV positive donors only in anti-HCV positive dialysis patients. Such practice has not demonstrated any adverse effect on the short-term patient survival; the waiting times for RT were shortened. A better alternative seems to be a policy of transplanting kidneys from anti-HCV positive donors only in HCV RNA positive recipients. This requires HCV RNA testing of all anti-HCV positive dialysis patients awaiting RT. Matching donors and recipients for HCV genotype has been suggested; however, the assessment of donor HCV genotype is currently hampered by time constraints. Recent evidence based on large data base demonstrated that RT recipients of HCV-positive donors are at independent increased risk of mortality; unadjusted 3-year patient survival was 85% versus 93% (P=0.01) in all recipients of donor HCV-positive and HCV-negative kidneys, respectively. This was observed in all recipient subgroups including elderly and HCV-positive recipients. In the near future, rapid nucleic acid testing (NAT) of donors and recipients will allow the assessment of the HCV viremic status in order to maximize organ use. With appropriate informed consent, use of a renal graft from an HCV positive donor may be offered to an HCV infected recipient. Additional studies are needed to clarify the link between donor HCV-positive kidneys and patient mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-625
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nephrology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Renal transplantation
  • Survival


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