Hepatitis C is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. It transmits between people through contact with blood containing the infection. Doctors can treat the virus with direct-acting antiviral medicines to the point where a person is in sustained remission. However, people who have had the virus at any time cannot donate blood or plasma.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that as many as
According to the CDC, 2.4 million people in the United States are living with chronic HCV infection. The organization recommends that
In this article, we discuss why people who have had hepatitis C cannot donate plasma and whether they can become organ donors. We also look at the other infections that the medical community screens blood products for before giving them to the recipient.
According to the American Red Cross, if a person has ever tested positive for HCV, they are not allowed to donate blood or plasma. This is because antibodies in the blood can be harmful to the person receiving the sample.
A person cannot donate plasma or blood if they have ever tested positive for HCV. This remains the case after they have received treatment.
Even after doctors have reduced the virus to undetectable levels in a person with an HCV infection, the person will
In the case of HCV, the screening test
What other conditions does blood screening identify?
Due to medical advances, a person who has had HCV can now donate organs in certain circumstances.
In 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services published
Before this, organ transplants from people with HCV were allowed, but under the label of “increased risk.” In 2017, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) reported that doctors were less likely to use organs from increased risk donors.
The OPTN added that this is likely based on a misconception of what the term means, as studies have shown that people who receive organs from increased risk donors have equal or better post-graft survival rates than those with non-increased risk transplants.
Currently, people who have tested positive for HCV at any stage in their life cannot donate plasma or blood. After screening, a blood donation center may defer them from donating these products due to the increased risk of infection for the recipient of the sample.
However, people who have had HCV may be eligible to become organ donors.
New guidelines reflect medical advances in diagnosing and treating HCV, increasing the availability of organs for transplant.