Patients who are HIV-positive and in need of an organ transplant have had HOPE since 2013—but now they officially have hope. The HIV Organ Policy Equity Act gave the OK more than two years ago to allow organ transplants from one HIV-positive patient to another, a previously illegal procedure, per CNN. Now Johns Hopkins University will become the first US hospital to perform an HIV-positive kidney transplant, and the first in the world to do an HIV-positive liver transplant. "This is an unbelievably exciting day for our hospital and our team, but more importantly for patients living with HIV and end-stage organ disease," says surgeon Dorry Segev. He estimates that more than 1,000 HIV-positive recipients could benefit annually. The procedures will take place once recipients and organs have been IDed.
Waiting for an organ is an especially critical time for HIV-positive patients, who tend to die more quickly while waiting than other patients. The two-year delay between the approval of the HOPE Act and Johns Hopkins' announcement was due to the National Institutes of Health having to ensure that any such transplants were carried out "under a clinical research protocol," meaning it had to set up appropriate safeguards and other criteria, a press release explains. "We are very thankful to Congress, Obama, and the entire transplant community for letting us use organs from HIV-positive patients to save lives, instead of throwing them away, as we had to do for so many years," Segev says in a Johns Hopkins release. (Another first in transplants: a woman who had to have one because of her needle phobia.)