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Donor's Age Not Linked to Poor Outcomes in Liver Transplants

Even recipients with hepatitis C had good five-year survival rates, study finds

TUESDAY, July 22, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with hepatitis C who receive a liver from a donor over age 60 aren't at an increased risk for transplant failure, death or recurrent disease within five years after transplantation, say researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine, in St. Louis.

They analyzed data from 489 adults who had liver transplants at the school between 1997 and 2006. Of those patients, 187 (38.2 percent) had hepatitis C and 302 (61.8 percent) had other indications for liver transplant.

Of the patients with hepatitis C, 88.1 percent were still alive after one year, 78.3 percent survived three years, and 69.2 percent survived five years. Donor livers were still functioning in 85.6 percent of hepatitis C virus-positive recipients after one year, 75.6 percent after three years, and 65.6 percent after five years.

When they compared patients with hepatitis C and those without hepatitis C, the researchers found no differences in rates of patient survival and transplanted liver survival at one, three and five years.

"However, similar to other long-term transplant centers, we observed a negative effect from recurrent hepatitis C virus with a trend toward worsened long-term survival between years five and 10," the researchers wrote.

Among the patients in the study, 24 (12.8 percent) of those with hepatitis C and 48 (15.9 percent) of those without the virus received livers from donors age 60 and older. These recipients and those who received livers from younger donors had similar one-, three-, and five-year survival rates.

The findings were published in the July issue of the Archives of Surgery.

"In conclusion, overall patient and graft (organ) survival in hepatitis C virus-positive recipients is comparable with that in hepatitis C virus-negative patients, and there seems to be little, if any, adverse effect on short- and medium-term follow-up with the use of carefully selected older donor grafts in recipients with hepatitis C virus," the researchers concluded. "Data from this series suggest that the continued use of selected older donors is a safe method of expanding the liver donor pool, even for hepatitis C-positive recipients."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about hepatitis C.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, July 21, 2008
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