Officials with Johns Hopkins Medicine announced they recently received approval from the United Network for Organ Sharing to be the first hospital in the United States to perform an HIV-positive to HIV-positive kidney transplant, and the first in the world to execute an HIV-positive to HIV-positive liver transplant.
“For patients living with HIV and end-stage organ disease … this means a new chance at life,” Dorry L. Segev, MD, PhD, associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said in a prepared statement.
A bill signed by President Obama, 2013 Hope Act, made it possible for HIV-positive individuals to donate organs. Prior to the Hope Act, an older law from the 1980s prevented doctors from using organs from HIV-positive donors, even if they were intended to be given to an HIV-positive patient in need.
Approximately 122,000 people are on the transplant waiting list in the United States at any one time. Meanwhile, Segev explained that each year, about 500 to 600 HIV-positive, would-be organ donors had organs that could have saved people if only the medical community was allowed to use the organs for transplant.
“Organ transplantation is actually even more important for patients with HIV, since they die on the waiting list even faster than their HIV-negative counterparts. We are very thankful to Congress, Obama and the entire transplant community for letting us use organs from HIV-positive patients to save lives, instead of throwing them away, as we had to do for so many years,” Segev noted in the statement.
The first approved HIV-positive to HIV-positive transplant could take place as soon as a suitable organ should become available and a recipient is successfully identified and prepared.