Because of the current organ shortage, some liver transplant programs have begun to accept marginal organs that previously would have been rejected. An example is the use of donors with evidence of past hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. To gain insight into the use of hepatitis B core antibody-positive (anti-HBc+) donor livers in recipients without evidence of HBV infection, we conducted a survey. Surveys consisting of 12 multiple-choice questions were sent to all 110 liver transplant programs across the United States in mid-2001, and 56 of 110 surveys (51%) could be evaluated. Overall, 32 of 56 programs (57%) indicated they would transplant an anti-HBc+ liver into a recipient without serological evidence of HBV infection. Of those who would accept an anti-HBc+ liver, 16 of 27 respondents (59%) indicated knowledge of HBV DNA status would change their protocol; 46% of these respondents would decrease prophylaxis if HBV DNA was negative, 27% would increase prophylaxis if HBV DNA was positive, and 27% would not accept the liver if HBV DNA was positive. Conversely, 9 of 28 respondents (32%) who would not accept an anti-HBc+ liver stated that knowing HBV DNA status would change their protocol in that they might consider accepting livers if HBV DNA was negative. In conclusion, as of mid-2001, of transplant medical directors in the United States who responded to our survey, 57% would accept an anti-HBc+ donor liver for an HBV-naïve recipient. Treatment protocols for using these organs varied. Knowledge about HBV DNA status of the donor and/or liver would greatly influence prophylaxis for those accepting anti-HBc+ donor livers.
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