Yesterday, physicians at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland announced they had successfully completed the nation’s first ever transplant of an HIV-positive organ from a deceased individual to an HIV-positive individual. The landmark medical procedure was made possible thanks to the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act that lifted a twenty-five year federal ban on the use of such organs. HRC helped draft the legislation and shepherd it through Congress in 2013 with incredible bipartisan leadership from Reps. Lois Capps (D-CA), and Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Rand Paul (R-KY). National Public Radio’s Morning Edition reported on this historic step this morning. Click here to listen to the story.
At any given time, about 122,000 people are on the transplant waiting list in the U.S., and thousands die while waiting for a compatible organ. Surgeons at Johns Hopkins estimate that each year, about 500 to 600 HIV-positive, would-be organ donors die, and their organs could have saved more than 1,000 people. Allowing HIV-positive transplant candidates the option to accept an HIV-positive organ, is expected to decrease the time all transplant candidates wait for life-saving organs. The HIV-positive to HIV-positive transplants are currently limited to the research setting, however the Johns Hopkins transplant team will be training colleagues at transplant facilities around the nation on proper safety protocols in preparation for future procedures.
As we celebrate LGBT Health Awareness week, what better news to share than our work is saving lives.