Dr. John Rice Comments on Using Hepatitis C-Infected Organs for Transplantation

Dr. John Rice

John Rice, MD, assistant professor (CHS), Gastroenterology and Heptatology, gave his perspective about a clinical study at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Researchers in Pennsylvania transplanted organs infected with hepatitis C into uninfected patients who were aware that the donors had the virus and agreed to the transplantation.

The transplant recipients were then treated with new hepatitis C medications in order to cure them of the disease. All 10 patients in the study are now hepatitis C-free. 

“I think [this approach] is going to happen, and I think it is a good idea,” said Dr. Rice, noting the 95- to 98-percent effectiveness of the medications. 

In light of 119,000 patients on the national transplant wait list, using organs from infected individuals could alleviate organ shortage - but with a retail cost of the antiviral medications as high as $85,000, insurance coverage “is a complicated problem,” said Dr. Rice.