THURSDAY, March 31, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Groundbreaking liver and kidney transplants from an HIV-positive donor to HIV-positive recipients were announced Wednesday by surgeons at Johns Hopkins University.
“A couple of weeks ago, we performed the first HIV-to-HIV liver transplant in the world and the first HIV-to-HIV kidney transplant in the United States,” Dorry Segev, M.D., Ph.D., professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, said during a midday media briefing. Before 2013 and passage of the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act, this kind of medical advance would not have been possible, because it was illegal for HIV-positive patients to donate organs in the United States. The act allows HIV-positive donors to donate organs to patients infected with the virus, Segev said.
Christine Durand, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and oncology at Hopkins, said the transplant operations went well and both patients are doing “extremely well.” The patient who received the kidney has already gone home, and the liver transplant patient is expected to leave the hospital in a couple of weeks, she said. Both the liver and kidney came from a deceased HIV-infected donor.
Transplanting organs from HIV patients carries some risks. “These patients will be exposed to a second strain of HIV from the donor and may be infected with that strain,” Durand said during the briefing. It’s important, therefore, to consider if the donor has drug-resistant HIV. In addition, it’s important to ensure that the immunosuppressant drugs needed to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ don’t interfere with the HIV drugs. “We are encouraged by these first transplants and now it is our hope and our aim to extend this possibility to other patients who are waiting on the transplant list,” Durand said.
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