Baltimore surgeons have performed the world's first ever kidney transplant from a living donor with HIV, a milestone for patients with the AIDS virus who need a new organ. If other donors report with HIV, this could free up space on the transplant waiting list for all.
Nina Martinez from Atlanta traveled to Johns Hopkins University to donate a kidney to an HIV-positive stranger, making a difference in someone else's life "and resisting the stigma that still often surrounds HIV infection.
Many people say that "someone with HIV is supposed to look ill," 35-year-old Martinez told The Associated Press before Monday's operation, "It's a powerful statement to show someone like me who is healthy enough
Hopkins, who made the transplant public on Thursday, said both Martinez and the recipient of her kidney who wanted to remain anonymous recover well, Martinez is due to be released from hospital on Thursday, and their renal receptors are expected to be released within the next few days, their doctors said during a press conference on Thursday.
Hopkins & # 39; Segev said the Monday's kidney transplant was a world first: doctors have been reluctant to donate to people living with HIV because they fear that their remaining kidney will be affected by the virus or older medicines used to treat it. could be damaged.
Newer anti-HIV drugs are safer and more effective, Segev said. His team recently examined the renal health of 40,000 HIV-positive people and concluded that people with well-controlled HIV and no other kidney problems like hypertension should be at risk for a live donation that poses the same risks as a person without HIV.
"There may be tens of thousands of people who currently live with HIV and may be kidney donors," said Segev, who has considered several other hospitals.
Martinez said during a press conference on Thursday that part of his motivation to donate a kidney changed the narrative about HIV patients.
"For me it was just a way to be the same with everyone else," she said. "I really wanted to do something to rouse people's perceptions."
Durand said she hoped Martinez's surgery would create a ripple effect that would cause other people with HIV to register as organ donors.
In general, kidney living donors added longer, Dr. Niraj Desai, the recipient Hopkins surgeon. And more people living with HIV donate more than HIV-positive patients who need a kidney.
"This is a person less waiting for a limited resource," said Desai. "That helps everyone on the list."
Martinez, a health consultant and longtime clinical research volunteer, was interested in donations before HIV-to-HIV transplantation began. Last summer she learned that an HIV-positive friend needed a transplant and asked Segev to ask for donations.
It took about nine months for Martinez to be healthy enough for the donation. Her boyfriend died before Martinez completed the required health tests, but she decided to give him a donation to someone she did not know.
"Losing someone's HIV and kidney disease was very difficult, but my late girlfriend was very excited to embark on this journey together," Martinez said Thursday. "I simply honored him. … If he had not asked for a kidney, that would not have been a serious consideration for me. "
A runner planning to do the Marine Corps Marathon this fall," I knew I was probably as healthy as someone who did not live with HIV and was considered a kidney donor, "Martinez said. "I have never been safer."
Associated Press Health & Science is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Scientific Education. The AP is responsible for all content.
Journalist Sarah Meehan of Baltimore Sun contributed to this article.