Doctors from Johns Hopkins Medicine announced the first-ever liver transplant from an HIV-positive donor Wednesday afternoon at a press conference.
A team from the hospital recently performed the world's first HIV-to-HIV liver transplant, and also the first-ever HIV-to-HIV kidney transplant in the U.S.
Dorry L. Segev, M.D., Ph.D., said that after successfully transplanting HIV-positive patients with HIV-negative organs, doctors realized that there were thousands of patients in need of kidney and liver transplants who were dying while waiting on organ donor lists.
Dr. Segev says hospitals were throwing away organs from HIV-positive donors because they were infected with the disease, organs that could have been used to save the lives of HIV-positive patients.
“The laws written in the 1980s forbid the transplantation of organs infected with HIV,” said Dr. Segev, professor of surgery and director of the Epidemiology Research Group in Organ Transplantation at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
HIV treatment has advanced since the 80s, and medical teams set out to change the laws. Doctors at Johns Hopkins partnered with advocacy groups to push the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act in Congress, which was signed into law by President Obama in November 2013.
"This is an unbelievably exciting day for our hospital and our team, but more importantly for patients living with both HIV and end-stage organ disease. For these individuals, this could mean a new chance at life," Dorry L. Segev, M.D., Ph.D. said in a news release.