World’s First HIV-to-HIV Kidney Transplant 

Nina Martinez became the first living HIV positive person to donate her kidney to an HIV positive recipient.

Published29 Mar 2019, 10:09 AM IST
Health News
2 min read

Nina Martinez, an Atlanta woman, became the first living HIV positive person to donate a kidney to an HIV positive recipient.

According to a report by CNN, Martinez was diagnosed with HIV when she was only 6 weeks old in 1983, when she received blood which was unchecked for the HIV virus. The transplant was conducted at John Hopkins Medicine and was done by Dr. Dorry Segev.

HIV is mostly sexually transmitted, but can also occur from transfer of blood or from an infected mother to her infant during pregnancy. The virus causes the HIV infection and over time, AIDS. 

AIDS has a detrimental impact on the immune system of humans making them more susceptible to life threatening infections and cancers.

HIV positive donor transplants were not concerned feasible up until 2013, owing to the fact that HIV itself can be detrimental for the kidney and drugs to control HIV are toxic for the kidney.

Most organ transplants were done from deceased HIV positive donors in order to minimize this risk. This medicinal breakthrough has opened avenues for transplant of other organs from HIV positive donors to HIV positive recipients.

An estimated 1.1 million people in the US have HIV and over 113,000 people are on the waiting list for organ transplants. This surgery has revolutionized medicine and increased the pool of organs to be used for transplants.

Having just one kidney is usually extremely dangerous for an HIV positive person as it puts them at risk of infections. However according to a study, the risk of an HIV positive person developing an infection is not much greater than it is for HIV negative people.

As per the CNN report, both the recipient and donor are in good health and will be on medications indefinitely to suppress their HIV. The recipient will no longer have to undergo dialysis for the first time in a year. Though, It is likely that the recipient might reject the organ they are being given drugs to prevent it. The donor is under post operative care, her HIV is well controlled and her immune system is stable.

This surgery is a milestone in medicinal history and will also help in removing the stigma associated with HIV.

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