In this February 2019 photo provided by Brigham and Women's Hospital, Dr. Mandeep Mehra, executive director of Brigham’s Center for Advanced Heart Disease, checks on patient James Sullivon at the hospital in Boston. Sullivon, who received a hepatitis C-positive heart transplant, was given antiviral medicine shortly after the procedure in hopes of blocking hepatitis C infection rather than having to treat it. (Adam Knee/Brigham and Women's Hospital via AP)

Study: Safe to transplant hepatitis C-infected hearts, lungs

April 03, 2019 - 5:01 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new study suggests doctors can safely transplant lungs or hearts from hepatitis C-positive donors without infecting the recipients.

It's the latest attempt to speed transplants by using organs that otherwise would be thrown away.

Doctors first experimented with hepatitis C-infected kidney transplants, using powerful new drugs to cure the virus in recipients who became infected. But it wasn't clear if hepatitis C-infected lung and heart transplants would work as well. Plus, the hepatitis medicines cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Researchers at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital tested giving the medicine right after a transplant. It's a small study but a shorter, cheaper round of treatment seemed to prevent infection.

The research was reported Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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