October/November #183 : Why Folks With HIV Can Be Excellent Transplant Recipients - by Trenton Straube

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The Show Must Go On

A Capital Affair

From the Editor

Trench Warfare


Letters- October/November 2012


Full-Court Press

What You Need to Know

Jamar Rogers's Voice Will Go On

Olympic Winner Tells the World He's Positive

Pesky Email Spam Offers Clues for Eradicating HIV

Infant Circumcision Grows to Global Debate

Why Folks With HIV Can Be Excellent Transplant Recipients

We Hear You

Dr. No

POZ Survey Says

Taking Risks to Help Others

What Matters to You

Finding an HIV Vaccine

Treatment News

Detecting the Missing Link Between HIV and Brain Drain

Point of Reentry: Getting Prisoners HIV Care

New Booster in Town: Cobicistat

Bronx Cheer: An HIV Testing Program Shows Progress

The "War on Drugs" Spreads HIV

Comfort Zone

Dear Diary

POZ Heroes

Hip-Hop Soul

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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October / November 2012

Why Folks With HIV Can Be Excellent Transplant Recipients

by Trenton Straube

John Rankl Gulf War veteran John Rankl is a true American hero. He served his country not only in the military, but also on prime-time television. Appearing on 
a July episode of the ABC medical documentary series NY Med, Rankl inspired and educated millions by sharing that he was openly gay, HIV positive and in dire need of a heart transplant.  

The episode opens at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, one of the nation’s few programs, we are told, that offer transplants to positive people. When we meet Rankl, a doc says that if he doesn’t have a transplant soon, he’s going to die.  

Luckily, a donor heart becomes available. Rankl is prepped for surgery, but a mishaps occurs: The organ is damaged, and the operation is cancelled.

Rankl changes to Hartford Hospital, where Jonathan Hammond, MD, says that Rankl will be the transplant center’s first HIV-positive patient. “It’s going to take a while for everyone to adjust to the concept,” the surgeon says, because the misperception is that people with HIV are going to die, so why transplant them instead of a negative person. “Actually,” Hammond explains, “[Rankl] is perhaps a better transplant candidate than people who haven’t shown that they have the discipline [needed] to survive with a heart transplant.”

Studies—particularly of liver and kidney transplants—are also proving that HIV-positive recipients can do as well as their negative counterparts. Good news because people with HIV are living longer—and are in greater need of transplants. (Federal law forbids people with HIV from donating organs—even to other positive people.)

The NY Med episode closes nearly four months after the transplant, as the Rankl family celebrate his new start. “Even my doctor is amazed at how well I’m doing,” he says. “It’s great to be alive.”

Search: John Rankl, NY Med, heart transplant, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Harvard Hospital

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