No hospital in the U.S. has ever performed an organ transplant from an HIV-positive patient to another HIV-positive person — until now.
Johns Hopkins has gotten approval from the United Network for Organ Sharing for an HIV-positive kidney transplant and an HIV-positive liver transplant. This can happen in part because of a bill passed in 2013, which allows HIV-positive people to donate organs; previously, anyone who was HIV-positive was banned from doing so, even if the organ was intended for another HIV-positive patient. Hopkins doctors estimate that the ban prevented hundreds of would-be donors from helping as many as 1,000 HIV-positive people in need of a transplant per year.
“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,” Dorry Segev, associate professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins, told the Hopkins Hub. “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.”
The transplants will begin as soon as suitable donors and patients are found.