People with hepatitis C may be able to donate their organs without the risk of the virus spreading, a study suggests.
Currently, organs from patients with the infection can only be transferred to people who already have the virus to avoid it being passed on.
But researchers have now discovered a way to clear recipients of the virus within days of being given infected organs.
Volunteers took a combination of antiviral and cholesterol-lowering drugs 12 hours before surgery and then daily for a week after the operation.
While some had measurable levels of hepatitis C in their blood initially, by the end of the seven days their bodies had fended off the virus.
University of Toronto Scientists say the discovery could offer a 'huge benefit', raising hopes that tens of lives could be spared.
A new study, by Canadian researchers, has found giving uninfected recipients antiviral and cholesterol-lowering drugs prevents them from contracting hepatitis C during organ transplants (file image)
There are more than 6,000 people on the UK Transplant Waiting List - 400 of which die each year waiting for an organ.
Up to 15 suitable donors are declined every year because of the risk of transmission of hepatitis C, figures show.
Hepatitis C, most commonly acquired through infected blood, inflames the liver. If left untreated, it can cause cirrhosis - or scarring of the liver.
This can cause it to stop working properly over time. In severe cases, life-threatening problems such as liver failure or cancer can develop.
But with modern treatments, it's possible to clear the infection with relative ease, and most people who contract it will have a normal life expectancy.
Eleven recipients received organs - including lungs, kidneys, hearts, as well as a kidney and pancreas - from nine hepatitis C-positive donors.
Six to 12 hours before the operation, they were given antiviral drugs glecaprevir or pibrentasvir and ezetimibe, a cholesterol-lowering drug.
Hepatitis C is inflammation of the liver and there is no preventive vaccine.
There are around three million people in the US and 215,000 people in the UK who are