Friday, 19 April, 2019

Living HIV Patient Donates Kidney In First Transplant Of Its Kind

Nina Martinez of Atlanta, Georgia, Becomes First Living HIV-Positive Organ Donor Doctors perform first ever organ transplant from HIV-positive living donor
Celia Hoffman | 30 March, 2019, 20:36

THURSDAY, March 28, 2019 (HealthDay News) - Surgeons in Baltimore have performed the world's first kidney transplant in which both the living donor and the recipient are HIV-positive. The success of this operation could mean organs becoming more widely available to patients who are affected by HIV/AIDS.

"A disease that was a death sentence in the 1980s has become one so well-controlled that those living with HIV can now save lives with kidney donation", Dr. Dorry Segev, professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said Thursday at a news conference.

Nina Martinez initially had wanted to donate her kidney to a friend, but the friend passed away last fall, hospital officials said. She made a decision to still go ahead with the donation and give her kidney to someone else in need. It's not counted how many of these people are living with HIV, but with live donors like Martinez, more people on the waiting list could receive the help they need. I wanted to do something to jolt people's perceptions. And if more people living with HIV wind up donating, it helps more than HIV-positive patients who need a kidney.

"Somebody was waiting for a kidney who needed that kidney, and even though my kidney has HIV, this kidney saved their lives", she added.

Nina Martinez, 35, contracted HIV from a blood transfusion at six weeks old in 1983, before blood banks started screening for the disease, and fortunately survived to the age of 13, in 1996, when viral-suppressing drugs were released. Doctors diagnosed her with the virus in the early 1990s.

"For us, this is not only a celebration of transplantation but a celebration of the progress of HIV care", he said.

According to the American Transplant Foundation, nearly 114,000 people in the US are on the waiting list for an organ transplant.

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

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Durand said the operation is a challenge for the public to see HIV differently and bring advancement in medicine. Almost three of every five transplants involve a kidney.

Just 6 years ago, this procedure would not have been possible because people with HIV were not legally allowed to donate organs. But by the 2000s, the medical community and advocates wanted more.

Nina Martinez traveled from Atalanta to Maryland and was wheeled into operating room Johns Hopkins Hospital, Maryland in United States of America on Monday, March 22, to make a difference in someone's life. In addition, South Africa has established a successful track record of HIV-positive to HIV-positive kidney transplants using organs from deceased donors. Surgeons had been waiting to find compatible patients. HIV-positive patients can receive transplants from HIV-negative donors just like anyone else.

"We had to show that certain people with HIV could be healthy enough to be a kidney donor and to live with only one kidney". Newer HIV medications are safer and more effective, however, making an HIV-positive person with no complications on par with an HIV-negative live kidney donor, Segev told the AP.

In a statement, UNOS called the new transplant "a positive milestone in the HOPE process".

Both the living donor and the recipient will continue on antiretroviral therapy and will be monitored vigilantly for signs of resistance.

Since 2016, 116 such kidney and liver transplants have been performed in the U.S.as part of a research study, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS, which oversees the transplant system.

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