Johns Hopkins Hospital has been approved as the first in the nation to undertake an HIV-positive kidney transplant and the first in the world to perform an HIV-positive liver transplant, Johns Hopkins University announced on Monday.
"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. For these individuals, this means a new chance at life," Dorry Segev, an associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a news release.
Segev helped draft the 2013 HOPE Act, a bill that made it possible for HIV-positive individuals to donate organs. HIV-positive to HIV-positive kidney transplants have been successful in South Africa.
Approximately 122,000 people are on the U.S. transplant waiting list at any given time. Segev estimated that about 500 to 600 HIV-positive would-be organ donors had organs that could save more than 1,000 people annually.
The first HIV-positive to HIV-positive transplant could take place as soon as a suitable organ becomes available and a recipient is identified and prepared, the hospital said.
"Organ transplantation is actually even more important for patients with HIV, since they die on the waiting list even faster than their HIV-negative counterparts," Segev said in the news release. "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."