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Utah hepatitis C patient gets kidney with same virus

Published July 31, 2014 6:54 pm

Medicine • Doctors say the organ worked immediately; recipient can expect a long life.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A West Jordan man who has hepatitis C went home from University of Utah Hospital Thursday with a new kidney, the first Utah patient to receive such an organ from a donor with the same virus.

"It's a new opportunity to live," said Andres Galvan, 61, through a translator at a U. press briefing.

Galvan had been undergoing dialysis for kidney failure for more than two years and had been on the kidney transplant list for a year.

When he agreed to accept a kidney from a deceased out-of-state donor with hepatitis C, the transplant team bumped him to the top of the list. Patients typically wait two to three years for organs from healthy donors.

Galvan received the new kidney on Sunday, said surgeon Jeff Campsen.

"The kidney worked immediately. He's off of dialysis," Campsen said. "All expectations, all clinical signs are that he is just going to do wonderfully."

In the past, such a patient would have been considered a poor candidate for transplant because the liver — and the new kidney — would continue to be damaged by the hepatitis C virus.

Then, last year, new game-changing drugs that can cure hepatitis C were introduced. The drugs are 90 percent effective and lack the side effects of the old drugs, Campsen said.

Doctors at the U. will evaluate Galvan after three months. If he is healed and tolerating the new kidney well, U. doctors can prescribe Sovaldi, one of the new drugs.

Campsen said Galvan can expect a long life.

The U. transplant team will duplicate the treatment with other patients, he said. "As we're successful, we'll expand."

President Barack Obama signed the Hope Act last year, paving the way for transplanting organs from HIV-positive donors into patients with the HIV virus, which causes AIDS. The U. has no plans to do such transplants soon, however.

"We've had conversations about it, but have no plans to work on it now," said Campsen. "Hepatitis C was the first step. You get excited about this stuff, but we have to be cautious."

kmoulton@sltrib.com

Twitter: @KristenMoulton