For the first time, a person living with HIV has donated a kidney to a transplant recipient also living with HIV. A multidisciplinary team from Johns Hopkins Medicine completed the living donor HIV-to-HIV kidney transplant on March 25. The doctors say both the donor and the recipient are doing well.
“This is the first time someone living with HIV has been allowed to donate a kidney, ever, in the world, and that’s huge,” says Dorry Segev, M.D., Ph.D., professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “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 haven’t 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. However, Segev and colleagues’ recent research on over 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.
Segev along with Christine Durand, M.D., associate professor of medicine and oncology and member of the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center are leading HOPE in Action, an effort that encompasses multiple national studies exploring the feasibility, safety and effectiveness of HIV-to-HIV transplantation. This innovation was made possible by Segev’s conception of and advocacy for the 2013 federal HIV Organ Policy Equity Act (the HOPE Act). In addition to leading the team that performed the first deceased donor HOPE transplants in the United States in 2016, they are leading two NIH-funded trials of HIV-to-HIV kidney and liver transplants. This first-ever living kidney donor transplant is the next major milestone in HOPE.