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Hopkins Begins Nation’s First HIV-Positive Organ Transplants

March 30th, 2016 by WCBC Radio

Surgeons in Baltimore for the first time have transplanted organs between an HIV-positive donor and HIV-positive recipients. It's a long-awaited new option for patients with the AIDS virus whose kidneys or livers also are failing.

Johns Hopkins University announced Wednesday that both recipients are recovering well after one received a kidney and the other a liver from a deceased donor – organs that ordinarily would have been thrown away because of the HIV infection.

Doctors in South Africa have reported successfully transplanting HIV-positive kidneys but Hopkins said the HIV-positive liver transplant is the first worldwide.

"This could mean a new chance at life," said Dr. Dorry Segev, a Hopkins transplant specialist who pushed for legislation lifting a 25-year U.S. ban on the approach and estimates that hundreds of HIV-positive patients may benefit.

For patients who don't already have the AIDS virus, nothing changes – they wouldn't be offered HIV-positive organs.

Instead, the surgeries, performed earlier this month, are part of research to determine if HIV-positive transplants really can help HIV-positive recipients.

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