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First living HIV-positive donor provides kidney for transplant in medical breakthrough



Surgeons at the Johns Hopkins Hospital have a HIV-positive donor to HIV-positive recipients, a medical breakthrough they hope will expand the pool of available organs and help change perceptions of HIV.

The donor, 35-year-old Nina Martinez, and the recipient, who chose to remain anonymous, are recovering in the hospital after Monday's surgery, doctors said.

The procedure is another step in the evolution of HIV – considered to be certain death when the AIDS epidemic began in 1981 – and to advance for the 1.1 million people who carry the virus. United States by 2030. But stigma still remains.

"Society perceives me and people like me as people who bring death, "Martinez said in an interview Saturday before the operation.

Martinez, who received HIV from a blood transfusion as an infant, is expected to speak pm

Surgeons have transplanted 1

16 organs from deceased HIV-positive donors to recipients with HIV since 2016, when a new law allowed that surgery took effect. Nina Martinez is the first HIV-positive live kidney donor.


Nina Martinez is the first HIV-positive live kidney donor. (Andre Chung / for The Washington Post)

More than 113,000 people are on the U.S. waiting list for organ transplants, most of them looking for kidneys.

Until now, leaving to HIV-positive person with just one kidney was considered too dangerous because of the infection and the medications that increase it

The HIV-positive people have been diagnosed with HIV-positive donors , especially those who engage in behaviors seeking as smoking.

"People with HIV today can not donate blood. But now they're ready to donate to a kidney, "said Dorry Segev, a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who led the research team and removed Martinez's left kidney. 30 years ago was a death sentence. Today they're so healthy they can give someone else life. "

The organ was implanted in the recipient by a separate team of surgeons, the normal procedure in transplantation. The operation was performed by Niraj Desai, assistant professor of surgery at Hopkins.

The kidney was implanted near the recipient's pelvis through a six-to-eight inch incision in the abdomen, and the recipient's kidneys were not removed, as is common practice, Desai said. On average, kidney recipients can expect 10 to 15 years out of a transplanted kidney, Desai said, although recipients of live kidney donation tend to be a little better than those who receive organs from deceased donors.

Martinez and the recipient claim to remain on antiretroviral medication indefinitely to control their HIV. Resistance to HIV medication can vary from person to person, so doctors must monitor the recipient's attention in the months after the donor organ is introduced. Martinez is in near-normal physical health. Her viral load is undetectable. "Her health is excellent. Her HIV is well controlled. Martinez.

In 1983, Martinez and her twin sister were born 12 weeks prematurely in San Jose and soon developed anemia. The daughter of a naval officer, Martinez was taken to a hospital in San Francisco for a blood transfusion in the days before the HIV test, and she acquired the infection. She and her family were at the age of 8.

She was watched in school to make sure she was not.

"It gives me great." "It gives me great." joy to know that I'm putting a story like this out there, "she said.

A public health consultant who lives in Atlanta, Martinez was aware of the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act when it was enacted in 2013. The next year, she saw an episode of the television show "Gray's Anatomy" in which the writers invented a story about a live HIV-positive donor.

"When I take this recipient off the list, everyone moves up, "she said," they've got HIV or not. "


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