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November 3, 2008

HIV-Positive Organ Transplant Sets Medical Precedent

In late September, doctors at the Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, performed the world’s first organ transplant between an HIV-positive donor and a positive recipient, The Guardian reports.

The operation transplanted the HIV-infected kidneys from one donor into two men. In a country where one in five adults lives with HIV, the previous block on HIV-positive transplants had caused South African authorities to dispose of almost a third of organs due to the potential donor’s HIV status.

“HIV patients are at a disadvantage when it comes to getting an organ and dialysis. Even when we try to be fair, they are at a disadvantage competing with people with no chronic illness,” said Elmi Muller, the surgeon who performed the operation. “This study opens up an opportunity to help them, even gives them a slight advantage because of the high number of HIV-positive donors.”

Muller believes the operation could lead to the transplant of other vital organs from positive donors, particularly the liver, which is often vulnerable to damage by HIV medications.

Search: organ transplant, Cape Town, South Africa


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