Johns Hopkins is first in US to offer HIV-positive to HIV-positive organ transplants

Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins is the first hospital in the United States to receive approval from the United Network for Organ Sharing to perform HIV-positive to HIV-positive organ transplants.

With this approval, Johns Hopkins surgeons will be the first in the United States to perform an HIV-positive kidney transplant and first in the world to do an HIV-positive liver transplant. Physicians in South Africa have performed HIV-positive kidney transplants.

The approval is tied to a bill signed by President Barack Obama in 2013 allowing HIV-positive people to donate their organs. Dorry Segev, MD, PhD, associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, helped draft the 2013 HOPE Act.

"This is an unbelievably exciting day for our hospital and our team, but more importantly for patients living with HIV and end-stage organ disease," he said. "For these individuals, this means a new chance at life."

Dr. Segev estimates that roughly 500 HIV-positive potential organ donors each year had organs that could have saved 1,000 people, but legal regulations prevented physicians from giving organs from HIV-positive donors to HIV-positive patients.

"We are very thankful to Congress, Obama, and the entire transplant community for letting us use organs from HIV-positive patients to save lives, instead of throwing them away, as we had to do for so many years," Dr. Segev said.

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