A transplant never before expected to be done in medical history has been accomplished by a living HIV-positive donor!
On Monday, 35-year-old Nina Martinez went under the knife for a kidney transplant. While this may not seem like much, both Martinez and the recipient are HIV-positive which would make Martinez the first living positive donor.
The surgery took place at Johns Hopkins Hospital in hopes of a successful procedure and an opportunity to expand the pool of available organs and help change perceptions of HIV.
Back in 2016, a law was passed to allow organs from deceased HIV-positive donors to be used in procedures, but never a live door like Martinez.
The recipient who wants to stay anonymous is will no longer need kidney dialysis for the first time in a year.
This is major for those who are living with HIV and need a way to ensure a long life having a virus which has killed so many. While medications can suppress the infection, there was never a real possibility that a living donor could donate an organ.
“Society perceives me, and people like me, as people who bring death,” Martinez said in an interview Saturday before the operation. “And I can’t figure out any better way to show that people like me can bring life.”
Dorry Segev, a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine was the lead in the surgery which removed Martinez’s left kidney made a statement saying;
“People with HIV today can’t donate blood, but now they’re able to donate a kidney. They have a disease that 30 years ago was a death sentence. Today, they’re so healthy they can give someone else life”
Kidney recipients can expect 20 to 40 years from a transplanted kidney, Segev said, with those who receive live kidney donations doing a little better than those who get the organs from deceased donors.
However, in the case of the unnamed recipient, due to the HIV virus, both Martinez and the recipient will remain on the antiretroviral medication indefinitely to control their HIV with monitoring happening much more often than those without the virus.