Health Care

US Conducts World's Premiere Organ Transplants From Living Benefactors Who Have HIV

US Conducts World's Premiere Organ Transplants From Living Benefactors Who Have HIV”

She believes her choice will ripple down the transplant waiting list. With this, Martinez became the first living HIV-positive kidney donor ever.

The surgery, performed Monday, March 25, is a monumental step in the field of HIV research and adds to the body of evidence showing that a diagnosis is no longer a death sentence. In addition, South Africa has established a successful track record of HIV-positive to HIV-positive kidney transplants using organs from deceased donors.

Both Martinez and the recipient of her organ, who has requested to remain anonymous, are now doing well at the hospital. The surgical team at Johns Hopkins found that Martinez had healthy kidneys and a very low amount of HIV in her blood.

Hopkins surgeon Dr. Dorry Segev called the procedure "not only a celebration of transplantation but a celebration in HIV care".

More than 113,000 people are on the USA waiting list for organ transplants, a lot of them seeking kidneys. And if more people living with HIV wind up donating, it helps more than HIV-positive patients who need a kidney.

Before this transplant operation, doctors had believed it was too risky to leave an HIV positive patient with only one kidney.

In a statement, Segev estimated that between 500 and 600 HIV-positive people who wanted to be organ donors will die each year. One question is whether receiving an organ from someone with a different strain of HIV poses any risks, but so far there have been no safety problems, said UNOS chief medical officer Dr. David Klassen. The operation was performed by Niraj Desai, an assistant professor of surgery at Hopkins.

Doctors have been concerned about taking kidneys from living donors with HIV, fearing that the person's generosity might backfire if their remaining kidney suffered damage either from the virus or the medications that keep HIV at bay.

But a 2017 study of 42,000 people led by Hopkins researchers showed that for some healthy HIV-positive donors, the risk of developing serious kidney disease is not much greater than it is for many HIV-negative people, especially those who engage in behaviors such as smoking.

"There are potentially tens of thousands of people living with HIV right now who could be living kidney donors", said Segev, who has advised some other hospitals considering the approach.

While battling emotions- Martinez wanted to finish what she started- honoring her friend by still donating.

"For me it was just kind of an opportunity to be the same as anybody else", she said. This federal law allowed organ transplants between people with HIV in clinical trials.

"It challenges providers and the public to see HIV differently", she said. In the modern times the first organ tissue transplant was a thyroid transplant in 1883 performed by Swiss surgeon Theodor Kocher.

However, this transplant changes conventional perception and is a boon to the HIV-positive patients that are looking for organ transplants. "And I can't figure out any better way to show that people like me can bring life", she said ahead of the surgery. 'That helps everybody on the list'.

Martinez, a public health consultant, became interested in living donation even before HIV-to-HIV transplants began. Then last summer she learned that an HIV-positive friend needed a transplant, and tracked down Segev to ask if she could donate.

Martinez- who lives in Atlanta- contacted Hopkins, and traveled to Baltimore where she went through nine months of testing.

Her friend died before Martinez finished the required health tests but she chose to honor him by donating to someone she didn't know.

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