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Utah Man Receives Kidney from Donor Infected with Hepatitis C

Andrea Smardon
University of Utah Hospital patient Andres Galvan of West Jordan four days after a kidney transplant. (July 31, 2014)

University of Utah Hospital surgeons performed a kidney transplant this week using an organ from a donor with hepatitis C.

61-year-old Andres Galvan of West Jordan has a huge smile on his face, just four days after his kidney transplant. He raises his hands in the air as he thanks God and his doctors for what seems like a miracle. Doctor Jeffrey Campsen performed the surgery, and he says Galvan’s operation is a huge step for healthcare in Utah. 

“Six months ago, he’s in renal failure with active Hepatitis C virus, and six months from now, he’ll be cured of his renal failure and cured of his hepatitis C,” Campsen says. “This is something that you really couldn’t do until recently.”

Galvan was able to accept a kidney from a deceased donor who had hepatitis C because he already had the same disease. Now with an operational kidney in his body, he’ll be able to start taking medication to cure his hepatitis C, a pill that is only recently available, but is extremely effective at curing the disease. Dr. Campsen says Galvan’s life expectancy should be the same as any other man. He says with long wait lists for organ transplants, the option of using kidneys from infected donors opens up possibilities for patients like Galvan.

“Many people think well, if I died of a heart attack or if I have a hepatitis C infection, or a variety of different things, I’m not able to donate, but you can,” he says, and someone like Galvan will be very appreciative.

“I’m very happy,” Galvan adds with a laugh.

Hospital officials say this transplant is the first of its kind at the university. In the past, using an infected donor has been controversial, but it has been tried elsewhere, and they say recent data shows the results have been excellent. 

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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