For the first time in the United States, a 31-year-old male with primary sclerosing cholangitis received a liver transplant from a deceased donor infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV).
Primary sclerosis cholangitis slowly damages the bile ducts in the liver. After Lorenzo Swank learned his liver was failing, he was placed on the transplant list, according to The News & Observer.
“I waited in a lot of pain from May until September, worried as I got closer and closer to that time that there wouldn’t be a transplant for me,” Swank told The News & Observer.
Swank was still waiting for a transplant in September 2016, and was convinced he was going to die.
“We had 3 perfect storms,” Dr Richard Gilroy, of Intermountain Medical Center in Utah, told The News & Observer. “We had a deteriorating patient with fluid, a deteriorating patient with yellowness, and lastly we had a marker suggest he had cancer.”
As Swank’s desperation increased, Dr Gilroy presented him with the option to receive a liver transplant from a deceased donor who had HCV, which guaranteed that Swank would develop the virus.
The transplant ended up being a success, according to The News & Observer.
Although Swank did become infected, he was started on HCV drugs for 3 weeks. At his most recent checkup, his liver was as good as new and he has not had any complications.
“What we see is a normal livery appearing,” Gilroy told The News & Observer. “You go from being completely sick and completely tired all the time to having a new liver. And even if that liver is fighting hepatitis C even a little bit, it’s better than you’ve known your entire life.”
There has been 1 other patient at Intermountain Medical Center who received the same transplant surgery, and is reported to being doing well.
In 2017, more than 13,000 of 17,000 individuals will be placed on the liver transplant waiting list, according to the Intermountain Medical Center. In 2016, only 7000 patients received a transplant. Each year, approximately 1500 individuals will die waiting for a transplant, while another 1700 will be removed from the list due to becoming too ill to survive a transplant.
By Lauren Santye