SSM Health Medical Minute – Advances in Hepatitis C treatment transforming organ transplant

ST. LOUIS - At present, more than 100,000 people are on the kidney transplant waiting list. Every day, about 12 of these candidates will die or become too sick before a deceased donor organ becomes available.

New drugs are curing Hepatitis C, a previously chronic condition. Given Hep-C can usually be cured, accepting a liver or kidney with Hep-C could be a life-saving option for many patients who know, without a transplant, they will die sooner, as there are more people waiting on the list than will get an organ.

SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital is the first hospital in Missouri that is leading the way in this effort. They have performed several of these transplants so far and are seeing positive outcomes. Dr. Mustafa Nazzal, a SLUCare transplant surgeon at SLU Hospital, says these organs are safe for transplant by healing the liver’s recipient.

"It's an amazing thing because we can save many more lives and we've seen it. We've seen patients who that we know cannot get sicker than this yet they are very low on the transplant list," he said.

Dr. Nazzal says the recipient then immediately receives drugs to cure the Hep C in the new liver.

"We are trying to trade the liver failure with Hepatitis C that we know we can control and we can treat in a very short period of time," he said. "If we transplant them the complications of the liver transplant will be much less than waiting and not getting a transplant. It's a lifesaving operation."

He says it’s a development that opens up a new group of donors.

"We transplant them much faster, prevent them from dying on the list and are really getting good livers because these are from young donors," he said.

To learn more about organ donation, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs every Wednesday at 7 PM on KPLR News 11 and at 9 PM on KTVI Fox 2 News.​

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