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Natalie Cole Recovering After Kidney Transplant

Cole May Leave Hospital Next Week
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Hepatitis Expert Weighs In continued...

"I've [treated] thousands of patients with interferon and not seen any kidney problems from that. I've used it in people with kidney disease, as well," Bacon says.

Bacon notes that a very small percentage of hepatitis C patients, probably less than 5%, develop kidney problems related to their hepatitis.

But he's not sure that's what happened to Cole.

"I don't know that her kidney disease is due to her hepatitis C," Bacon says. "It might be due to blood pressure or diabetes or something else. I just don't know what the cause of her kidney disease is.

"I suspect that what happened was while she was on interferon being treated for her hepatitis C, she had worsening of her kidney function, and it was what we call true-true-and-unrelated. True that she had treatment and true that she had kidney disease, but they were totally unrelated," Bacon says.

Kidney Transplant

As long as Cole's hepatitis C virus is gone, "then she should do fine with the transplant," Bacon says.

Before her kidney transplant, Cole had gotten kidney dialysis three times per week since September.

"In general, kidney transplantation is associated with better patient survival than dialysis, even when you compare patients who remain on the waiting list," Ron Shapiro, MD, professor of surgery and director of the kidney transplant program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, tells WebMD.

"Hopefully, [Cole will] do well and have a good outcome and have the quality of her life be vastly better," says Shapiro, who isn't treating Cole.

Cole's new kidney came from a deceased donor through the regional organ procurement agency, One Legacy, according to Cole's web site.

Most transplanted kidneys come from people who have died, according to background information on the web site of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

The transplantation operation itself is "a relatively short procedure. It can be on the order of three to four hours, sometimes faster, sometimes longer," says Shapiro. He adds that unlike a transplanted heart, lung, or liver, it can be OK if transplanted kidneys don't work immediately after the transplant. 

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