1Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina.
2Department of Cardiology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina.
3Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
4Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina. Electronic address: email@example.com.
Background: Advances in hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment and the ongoing opioid epidemic have made HCV-positive donors increasingly available for heart transplantation (HT). This analysis reports outcomes of over 1000 HCV-positive HTs in the United States in the modern era.
Methods: The United Network of Organ Sharing registry was used to identify HTs between 2015 and 2021. Recipients were grouped by donor HCV status and by nucleic acid amplification test (NAT) positivity. The primary outcome was 1-year mortality, and secondary outcomes included 3-year mortality. A subanalysis compared HCV-positive HT outcomes between NAT-positive and NAT-negative donors. Risk adjustment was performed using Cox regression. Kaplan-Meier analysis was used to estimate survival.
Results: The frequency of HCV-positive HT increased from 0.12% of HTs in 2015 to 12.9% in 2021 (P < .001). Of 16,648 HTs, 1170 (7.0%) used an organ from an HCV-positive donor. Recipients of HCV-positive organs were more likely to be HCV seropositive, older, and White. Unadjusted 1- and 3-year survival rates were not significantly different between recipients of HCV-negative and HCV-positive organs. After risk adjustment HCV-positive donor status was not associated with an elevated risk for 1-year (hazard ratio, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.71-1.19; P = .518) or 3-year mortality. Among HCV-positive HTs 772 (61.7%) were NAT positive. After risk adjustment NAT positivity did not impact 1-year mortality.
Conclusions: The proportion of HCV-positive HTs has increased over 100-fold in recent years. This analysis of the US experience demonstrates that recipients of HCV-positive hearts, including those that are NAT positive, have acceptable outcomes with similar early to midterm survival as recipients of HCV-negative organs.