Recent news revealed that the first HIV positive organ transplants at Johns Hopkins Hospital are to be made soon. The hospital announced it will perform kidney and liver transplants between HIV positive donors and HIV positive patients.
Dr. Dorry Segev from John Hopkins University School of Medicine said that viable organs from almost 500 HIV positive patients have go to waste each year. She estimated that allowing such transplants could save up to 1,000 individuals. Since 1988 until 2013 when the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act was passed, medical institutions hadn’t been allowed to perform such transplants.
However, after Johns Hopkins received approval from the United Network for Organ Sharing, the hospital is prepared to perform such surgeries. Individuals with HIV can receive organs from donors without HIV therefore the new organs could also move patients without HIV up the waiting list. According to statistics, almost 122,000 people in the United States are on the list.
David Klassen, the head of the United Network for Organ Sharing, declared the medical situation for HIV patients had drastically changed in the last years. He added that:
“nobody would consider transplanting an HIV positive recipient because everyone knew their life span was short. The notion that HIV positive recipients could be transplanted arose as a result of their extended life spans.”
The mortality rate for HIV patients on the waiting list is higher than in patients without the disease. Dr. Sergev explained that for those patients organ transplantation is essential as they often die on the waiting list. In the last years it was estimated that medical treatment of HIV individuals was very poor.
Most of the time, patients were denied the right to social activities as people tended to avoid them and consider them less human due to their disease. However, the first HIV positive organ transplants at Johns Hopkins prove that HIV people have a chance for a normal life.
What Johns Hopkins has accomplished is a great step among the HIV transplants. For the moment the number of operations is still low, but it is believed there will be an increase once the hospital gets adequate equipment. This revolutionary procedure gives hope both to those with HIV and those willing to help. Experts think many institutions will follow in the path of Johns Hopkins, providing a future for organ donors and recipients alike.
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