Severe recurrent hepatitis C after liver retransplantation for hepatitis C virus–related graft cirrhosis



An increase in the number of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected transplant recipients at need for repeated liver transplantation is anticipated. To date, there is a certain reluctance to accept these patients because of an increased organ shortage, early reports suggesting a poor outcome, and uncertainty regarding the natural history of recurrent hepatitis C in the second graft. The aim of this study is to determine the outcome of patients undergoing retransplantation for HCV-related graft cirrhosis. Of 49 transplant recipients with HCV-related allograft cirrhosis, 31 patients developed decompensation with criteria for retransplantation. Thirteen patients were denied this option. Of the 18 patients accepted, 6 patients died while on the waiting list (5 patients died of graft cirrhosis at a median of 3.2 months of listing), and 12 patients have undergone retransplantation (median, 10 months since HCV cirrhosis). After retransplantation, 8 patients (67%) died at a median of 8 months, and 4 patients (33%) remain alive after 1.9 years of follow-up. Causes and times of death from retransplantation were: surgical complications, n = 3 (perioperative period) HCV cirrhosis of the second graft, n = 2 (at 9 and 54 months) fibrosing cholestatic hepatitis, n = 1 (at 2 years) lymphoproliferative disorder, n = 1 (at 7 months) and endocarditis, n = 1 (at 3.5 years, with underlying cirrhosis). Of the 4 patients alive, fibrosis stages in the last biopsy specimens are stage 1 (n = 1), stage 3 (n = 1), and stage 4 or cirrhosis (n = 1; one patient has not undergone biopsy), despite antiviral therapy. The outcome of retransplantation for HCV cirrhosis of the first graft is very poor because of multiple complications. The severity of recurrent HCV disease in the second graft seems to be related to that observed in the first graft.