What if you need to have a kidney transplant and the only kidney available comes from a person who has hepatitis C. Would you want the transplant? For years, doctors wouldn't even consider using a kidney from a hep C patient. But that's now changing — and it's about time.
A recent study looked at 10 participants who jumped to the front of the line to receive a kidney. But there was, of course, a catch: the new kidneys had the potential to infect the recipients with hepatitis C.
For this study, researchers at Penn Medicine recruited 10 participants willing to take part in a risky trial: each would receive a kidney from a donor who had been infected with the hepatitis C virus. In the past, these kidneys have always been ruled out as too risky, as doctors did not know if a transplant would cause the recipient to become infected with the previously thought to be incurable virus. But with new drugs available that have successfully reversed many cases of hepatitis C, the doctors (and participants) thought it was worth the risk.
After undergoing the transplants, sure enough, all 10 of the patients tested positive for hepatitis C. However, after receiving a 12-week course of the drug Zepatier, all 10 were pronounced cured.
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Because this was such a small study, it's a bit premature to assume that everyone will have the same results. But the 100% success rate is a great start! The researchers are going to begin expanding the study to see if they can have similar results in more patients. If they continue to have such great success, this could open up a whole new donor pool, potentially saving thousands of lives.
This is great news. And I think it's a shame they didn't start sooner. That's because I've been able to successfully treat hepatitis C patients for years — without drugs. I recommend other steps. These start with strictly avoiding alcohol, eating a low-carbohydrate, high-fiber diet, and taking a potent multivitamin, such as Super Immune QuickStart. I also recommend four capsules daily of Advanced Liver Support.
In the very unusual situation where a patient is doing everything I have mentioned above but is still showing signs of escalating inflammation, then I will use intravenous lipoic acid alternating with ozone/UVB treatments. I've never seen these latter therapies fail to completely check the inflammation, and I've never lost a patient to hepatitis. Organ failure is another story, so I hope these results will encourage researchers and participants to continue experimenting with opening up this potentially life-saving donor pool.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD