Background. The use of hepatitis B core antibody (HBcAb+) and hepatitis C antibody (HCV Ab+) positive donors represents one strategy to increase available donor organs, but this remains controversial because of concern for viral transmission to recipients. We hypothesized that isolated HBcAb+ donors represent minimal risk of viral transmission in vaccinated lung transplant (LTx) recipients. Methods. A retrospective study was performed of LTx recipients who received HBcAb+ or HCV Ab+ pulmonary allografts. We analyzed liver function studies, viral hepatitis screening tests, quantitative polymerase chain reaction for hepatitis B viral DNA (HBV DNA) and hepatitis C viral RNA (HCV RNA), freedom from bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome, acute rejection, and survival. Results. Between April 1992 and August 2003, 456 LTx operations were performed. Twenty-nine patients (HB group) received HBcAb+ allograft transplants with a median posttransplant follow-up of 24.5 months. Three critically ill patients (HC group) received HCV Ab+ allografts with a median follow-up of 21.5 months. One-year survival for the HB group is 83% versus 82% for all patients who received non-HB organs (P=0.36). No patient in the HB group developed clinical liver disease because of viral hepatitis, and all patients alive (n=21) at follow-up are, to date, HBV DNA and/or HBcAb negative. All patients in the HC group tested HCV RNA positive; one patient died of liver failure at 22 months. Conclusions. Risk of viral transmission with HCV Ab+ allografts seems high after LTx. However, the use of HBcAb+ pulmonary allografts in recipients with prior hepatitis B vaccination seems to be a safe and effective strategy to increase organ availability.
- Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome
- Hepatitis B
- Lung transplantation
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