UW Medicine | Newsroom | June 13, 2018 | By, Brian Donahue, 206-543-7856, bdonohue@uw.edu

UW Medicine patients can opt in for suitable donor hearts and must complete an 8- to 12-week postoperative drug regimen to clear the virus.

From 2013 to 2017, UW Medicine cardiac surgeons transplanted an average of 48 patients a year.
Photo credit: Clare McLean

UW Medicine’s heart-transplant team this month began giving all of its patients access to suitable donor hearts from decedents who tested positive for the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Previously, these organs were available only to patients who already had the virus.

The team is taking this step because early results from a few U.S. transplant centers show that an eight- to 12-week course of medication can eradicate HCV from transplant patients postoperatively without imperiling the donor organ’s viability or the patient’s health.

“Based on direct-acting antivirals that appear to eliminate HCV from patients’ systems, and on favorable results from other centers, we’re confident that we can safely transplant these patients and then clear them of any transmitted virus before it creates health problems,” said Dr. Jason Smith, the cardiothoracic surgeon at UW Medical Center who is directing the protocol. MORE