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World's first living HIV-positive organ donor says she wanted to make a difference

1; Baltimore surgeons have carried out the allegedly first kidney transplant in the world from a living donor to HIV – a milestone for people with the AIDS virus – and one at the This could make room for a waiting list for transplants.

Nina Martinez from Atlanta traveled to Johns Hopkins University to donate a kidney to an HIV-positive stranger, saying that she "wanted to change someone else's life" and against the stigma that still too often Infection surrounds.


Many people say that "someone with HIV should look sick," the 35-year-old told The Associated Press before the operation. "It's a powerful statement to show someone like me who is healthy enough to be a living organ donor."

At a press conference on Thursday Martinez said she feels "good" and hopes she has opened the door to other donors.

"Having this medical heritage for me was pretty important," she said.

The renal recipient of Martinez, who decided to remain anonymous, is also recovering well, Hopkins said.

"Here is a disease that was a death sentence in the past and has now been so well controlled that it gives people with this disease the opportunity to save someone else," said Dr. Dorry Segev, a Hopkins surgeon committed to the HIV Organs Equity, or HOPE, Act, which lifted a 25-year US transplant ban on people living with HIV.

  Doctors transplanted one of the Martinez kidneys shown above into an HIV-positive recipient who wanted to remain anonymous.

Doctors transplanted one of Martinez's kidneys shown above into an HIV-positive recipient who chose to remain anonymous.
(Johns Hopkins Medicine via AP)

It is not counted how many HIV-positive patients among the 113,000 people on the nation's waiting list for organ transplants. HIV-positive patients, like all other grafts, can get HIV-negative donors.

It was only in recent years, stimulated by some pioneering operations in South Africa, that doctors began to transplant organs from deceased donors with HIV into patients. I have the virus, organs that would once have been thrown away.


Since 2016, 116 such kidney and liver transplants have been performed in the US as part of a United Nations Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) research study that oversees the transplant system. One question is whether obtaining an organ from someone with a different type of HIV than your own risk poses a risk, but so far there have been no safety issues, said UN Chief Medical Officer. David classes.

Hopkins & # 39; s Segev said on Monday kidney transplant was a world first. The doctors had been reluctant to donate to people living with HIV because they fear that their remaining kidney could be damaged by the virus or older medicines used to treat the virus.

Newer anti-HIV drugs, however, are safer and more effective, said Segev. His team recently examined the renal health of 40,000 HIV-positive people and concluded that individuals with well-controlled HIV and other kidney-damaging diseases, such as high blood pressure, should be exposed to the same risks from donations as people without HIV.

"There are potentially tens of thousands of people living with HIV and possibly kidney donors," said Segev, who has considered several other hospitals.

Generally kidney living donors last longer, Dr. Niraj adds Desai, Hopkins' surgeon, who looks after the recipient. And more people living with HIV donate more than HIV-positive patients who need a kidney.

"This is a person waiting for a limited resource," said Desai. "That helps everyone on the list."


Public health adviser Martinez became interested in a donation even before starting transplantation of HIV into HIV. Last summer, she learned that an HIV-positive friend needed a transplant and looked for Segev to ask if she could donate.

Her friend died before Martinez completed the required health tests, but she decided to honor him with a donation to someone I did not know.

A runner planning the Marine Corps Marathon this fall. "I knew that I was probably just as healthy as someone who did not live with HIV and was considered a kidney donor," said Martinez. "I have never been safer."

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