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Hepatitis C virus infection in kidney donors

Marion Muche, MD
Brian JG Pereira, MD
Seema Baid-Agrawal, MD
Section Editors
Daniel C Brennan, MD, FACP
Adrian M Di Bisceglie, MD
Deputy Editor
Alice M Sheridan, MD


Transplantation of a kidney from a hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected kidney donor may cause HCV infection in the recipient [1,2]. HCV infection has been associated with increased morbidity and possibly mortality in kidney transplant recipients [3-5].

These observations have led to the development of national and international policies concerning the allocation of organs from HCV-positive or negative donors into HCV-positive or negative recipients.

This topic reviews issues surrounding HCV-infected deceased or living kidney donors. HCV infection in kidney transplant recipients, transplant candidates, and nontransplant candidate dialysis patients is discussed elsewhere. (See "Hepatitis C infection in kidney transplant candidates and recipients" and "Hepatitis C virus infection in patients on maintenance dialysis".)


The prevalence of HCV infection in the general population is approximately 2 to 3 percent worldwide [6]. The best data regarding prevalence among deceased organ donors are from a study of 13,667 potential organ donors evaluated between 2004 and 2008 by 17 organ procurement organizations in the United States; HCV prevalence was 3.45 percent among normal-risk potential donors and 18.20 percent among high-risk potential donors [7]. In one study of 55 living, related potential donors, the prevalence of HCV was 3.6 percent [8].The reported prevalence of HCV infection among renal transplant recipients is approximately 1.8 to 8 percent [9-13]. (See "Hepatitis C infection in kidney transplant candidates and recipients".)


The risk of transmission of HCV infection associated with organ transplantation from an HCV-positive donor is significant [1,14-18]. In two reports, among recipients of organs from anti-HCV-positive donors, 14 to 100 percent tested positive for anti-HCV antibodies after transplantation, and 57 to 96 percent tested positive for HCV RNA by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) [1,14].


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Literature review current through: Oct 2015. | This topic last updated: Jul 4, 2015.
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