Doctors at Johns Hopkins performed the first U.S. liver and
kidney transplants from an HIV-positive donor to HIV-positive
recipients, the hospital announced on Wednesday. The ban on
HIV-positive organ donations was repealed in 2013.
Â (HIV was the only condition 100 percent banned in the
National Organ Transplant Act of 1984, when the AIDS epidemic was
still in its early stages.)
In a statement, the hospitalâ€™s Dr. Dorry Segev explained:
â€œThis opens the doors for so many more of these kind of transplants to happen, so many lives of people with HIV saved by these transplantsâ€.
â€œA thousand new transplants every year? If we can really reach, that would be a huge increase in the number of transplants,â€ Dr. Segev said.
â€œIt wasnâ€™t a medical issue,â€ he told The Baltimore Sun. â€œIt was entirely legal.â€ Segev and his colleagues repeatedly met with figures on Capitol Hill to try and push through legislation that would overturn the law. â€œThe hardest thing was to get it on their radar,â€ Segev said Wednesday.
The family of the first HIV-positive kidney and liver donor said she wanted to help. The New England woman, whose name was not released, was a â€œdaughter, mother, auntie, best friend and sister,â€ according to a statement from her family provided by the New England Organ Bank.
â€œFrom early childhood she always stuck up for the underdog,â€ said the statement. â€œHIV was not a choice she made, but she fought it for herself and our family every day. As we all know, HIV is a stigma and people with the disease are unfortunately at times treated differently. â€¦ She was able to leave this world helping those underdogs she fought so hard for.â€
Both recipients wished to remain anonymous,Â but areÂ doing well, Hopkins said. One has left the hospital and the other is expected to be discharged shortly.