Expanding the testing and treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) would free up many livers for transplantation.

“Because HCV is the No. 1 reason for liver transplantation in the U.S., eradicating HCV will mean that all patients with end-stage liver disease, irrespective of whether they have HCV, will benefit, because spared liver transplants can now be allocated towards these patients,” says Anupam B. Jena, MD, PhD, an associate professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and the study’s lead researcher.

Specifically, Jena’s team used a mathematical model to project that systematic HCV screening and treatment would lead to a decline in the rate of hep C–related end-stage liver disease and avert the transplantation of an estimated 10,500 livers into HCV-positive individuals between 2015 and 2035. They estimated that 7,300 of these livers would go to people on transplant waiting lists who don’t have hep C.