Historic HIV-to-HIV Organ Transplant Performed


Physicians were previously not authorized to use HIV-positive organ donors, even if the recipient was also HIV-positive.

The race to perform an historic organ transplant in a patient with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), from an HIV-positive donor, has come to an end as a team of physicians from Johns Hopkins has successfully completed the monumental surgery.

In February, Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland was the first hospital in the country to receive approval to perform HIV-to-HIV organ transplants. A little over a month later, Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was granted the same approval.

On March 30, Johns Hopkins announced that a medical team performed the world’s first HIV-to-HIV liver transplant and the United States’ first HIV-to-HIV kidney transplant.

“This is an unbelievably exciting day for our hospital and our team, but more importantly for patients living with both HIV and end-stage organ disease,” said Dorry L. Segev, MD, PhD, professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins.

Physicians were never authorized to use HIV-positive donors even if the recipient was also HIV-positive. But that all changed when the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act was adopted in 2013. At any given time, about 122,000 people in the US are on the organ transplant list.

About 500 to 600 would-be HIV-positive donors die each year, Segev estimated, and these people could help save more than 1,000 patients awaiting organs.

“Organ transplantation is critical for patients with HIV, who die on the waiting list even faster than their HIV-negative counterparts,” Segev continued.

Physicians at Hahnemann University Hospital are hopeful that the will perform their first HIV-to-HIV organ transplant sooner rather than later.

“Dr. Segev and his team are to be commended for their advocacy and cutting edge clinical effort! We are consenting our potential recipients and plan to do our first in the next few weeks to months — as soon as we get organs,” David Reich, MD, vice chair of the Department of Surgery at Drexel University College of Medicine, and chief of the Division of Multiorgan Transplantation and Hepatobiliary Surgery at Hahnemann told MD Magazine.

By the looks of it, HIV-to-HIV organ transplants will eventually become a regular practice.

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