Surgeons at John Hopkins Hospital have conducted the first ever kidney transplantation from a living HIV-positive donor to an HIV-positive recipient.The breakthrough surgery was performed on March 25, 2019 giving hope for HIV patients helping expand the pool of organ availability.
The 35 year old female donor Nina Martinez and the recipient (unnamed) are recovering the surgery, doctors reported in a news report. They will be continuing the anti-retroviral therapy. The recipient will take medication to prevent organ rejection.
Explantation of the organ was carried out by one surgical team and the implantation into recipient was handled by a different team. The organ was implanted into recipient through a 6-8 inch incision in the abdomen. The recipient’s kidneys were not removed according to the standard procedure, revealed Dr. Niraj Desai, assistant professor of surgery at Hopkins, who performed the surgery.
The team of surgeons was led by Dr. Dorry Segev, professor of surgery and director of the Epidemiology Research Group in Organ Transplantation at Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Dr. Christine Durand, associate professor of medicine and oncology at Johns Hopkins.
“Kidney recipients can expect 20 to 40 years from a transplanted kidney with those who receive live kidney donations doing a little better than those who get the organs from deceased donors.” said Segev in a news report. After that period, the recipient would require another transplant or go back on dialysis, he said.
According to HIV Organ Policy Equity Act (HOPE), HIV-positive individuals were able to receive transplants from HIV-positive donors. However all the transplants performed until now were reported to have been performed from deceased donors. John Hopkins reported to have received approval for the live donor HIV-to-HIV kidney transplant in January 2018 .
Martinez had reported to have acquired HIV via blood transfusion at 6 weeks of age and was diagnosed when she was 8 years old.
“Society perceives me and people like me as people who bring death,” said the 35-year-old donor, in a news release. “And I can’t figure out any better way to show that people like me can bring life.”
“People with HIV today can’t donate blood, but now they’re able to donate a kidney,” said Dr. Dorry Segev in a news report. “They have a disease that 30 years ago was a death sentence. Today, they’re so healthy they can give someone else life.”
“Nina’s story of courage has really flipped the script for those living with HIV,” told Dr. Durand in news report. “We expect that Nina will have excellent outcomes and the risk of developing kidney disease in the long term is very low. This changes the narrative of HIV. Maybe people living with HIV will see this as a breakthrough,” he added.