Jul 31, 2014 12:00 PM

Author: Kathy Wilets

University of Utah Health surgeons performed what is believed to be the first kidney transplant in Utah using an organ from a donor with hepatitis C. 

The organ went to a recipient who also has hepatitis C, clearing the path for the recipient to now receive live-saving medications for the disease. 

The patient, a 61-year-old West Jordan man, suffers from both kidney disease and hepatitis C. New live-saving drugs that offer high cure rates for hepatitis C are now on the market, but these medications are not approved for patients who also have kidney disease because of harmful side effects. Getting the transplant means the patient can be cured of the kidney disease, which will make him healthy enough to eventually receive the hepatitis C treatment. 

Hepatitis C is a growing health concern in the U.S. An estimated 3.2 million Americans have the disease, and many do not even know because symptoms can go unnoticed for years or even decades. 

Using organs from hepatitis C infected patients is controversial, but the scarcity of organs has prompted several hospitals to begin using them in patients already infected, thus increasing available organs for critically ill patients. "Our interdiciplinary approach to treatment is why we can take on such complex medical cases," says Jeffrey Campsen, MD, a kidney transplant surgeon at University of Utah Health. "We use a multi-disciplinary approach to treatment and cure, creating a unique approach to the treatment of organ failure."

For more information, see the Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News, KUER, and The Scope Radio

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