PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — UPMC has temporarily suspended its living kidney donor program because of one case.

“And this involved one case, one isolated case of a donor kidney that turned out to be from a donor that was hepatitis C positive,” Paul Wood, vice president of public relations for UPMC, said. “We hope to be up and running and back to our normal schedule in the very near term, a month, maybe a little bit more.”

Dr. Ron Voorhees, chief of epidemiology at the Allegheny County Health Department, explains that hepatitis C can cause liver failure.

“And it’s one that’s spread by what we call parenteral contact, so it could be either be transmission of blood from one person to another, some other fluids and certainly a transplant could be a cause of infection,” he said.

A person with hepatitis C can donate a kidney, but only if the recipient has hepatitis C.

Dr. Voorhees says such infections are rare, but have happened with transplants in the past.

“It still sometimes happens that someone is very early in the infection and so it’s not detected,” he said. “The person hadn’t tested positive when the organ was used. So it takes a while before the test will actually show positive.”

The good news is that there are 250 transplant centers across the country. UPMC is not the only option in Pittsburgh – there are two more. So those people awaiting transplants from living donors will likely have lots of other choices.


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