April 02, 2019
2 min read

Johns Hopkins first to transplant HIV-positive donor kidney to HIV recipient

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For the first time, a team from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore transplanted a kidney from a person living with HIV to a transplant recipient also living with HIV. The doctors in the case say both the donor and the recipient are doing well, according to a Johns Hopkins press release.

“This is the first time someone living with HIV has been allowed to donate a kidney, ever, in the world, and that’s huge,” Dorry Segev, MD, PhD, professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in the release. “A disease that was a death sentence in the 1980s has become one so well-controlled that those living with HIV can now save lives with kidney donation — that’s incredible.”

People living with HIV have not been able to donate kidneys until now, because there were worries that HIV was too much of a risk factor for kidney disease in the donor, according to the release. However, Segev and colleagues’ recent research on more than 40,000 people living with HIV showed that the new antiretroviral drugs are safe for the kidney, and that those with well-controlled HIV have basically the same risks as those without HIV and are healthy enough to donate kidneys.

“What’s meaningful about the first living kidney donor — who is also living with HIV — is that this advances medicine while defeating stigma, too. It challenges providers and the public to see HIV differently,” Christine Durand, MD, associate professor of medicine and oncology and member of the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, said in the release. “As patients waiting for a transplant see that we’re working with as many donors as possible to save as many lives as possible, we’re giving them hope. Every successful transplant shortens the waitlist for all patients, no matter their HIV status.”

The physicians will continue to closely monitor the recipient and the donor. In light of the new prediction factors and the highly effective antiretroviral therapy options available, the team says they are optimistic that long-term HIV control and kidney function will be excellent, according to the release.



Disclosure: The work is supported by the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease, NIH, CDC and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (NCT02602262).