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HCV-Positive Heart Donation Option to Combat Organ Shortage

New Study Shows That Transplanting Hepatitis C Virus Infected Hearts Is Cost-Effective Strategy to Combat Heart Donor Shortage in U.S.

May 08, 2023
Aditya Gandhi and Ann Woolley
Aditya Gandhi (right) and Ann Woolley, M.D., M.P.H., are lead authors on the study.

“Currently, due to the shortage of donor hearts, patients will wait an average of seven to eight months for a life-saving transplant. While organ donation has increased in recent years due to the opioid epidemic and an increase in overdose deaths, many organs are discarded due to donor HCV infection,” said Gandhi, who has led the research project throughout medical school at New York Medical College. “The advent of highly efficacious direct-acting antivirals has revolutionized HCV treatment, but the costs of these medications are substantial: $26,000 for a 4-week course.” Gandhi first developed a strong interest in health policy and infectious disease research while working at the Medical Practice Evaluation Center at Massachusetts General Hospital after earning his undergraduate degree. 

The study builds on previous research conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital that demonstrated the safety of transplanting HCV-positive donor hearts into uninfected recipients using a four-week course of direct-acting antivirals. “Our work extends the findings from that study to show that when brought to scale, HCV-positive heart donor eligibility in the United States would decrease waitlist times, improve life expectancy and be cost-effective,” said Gandhi, who presented the findings from the study at the American Transplant Congress last June and was the recipient of a Young Investigator Award.