Doctors Perform First Ever Heart-Transplant From HIV-Positive Donor
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The first ever heart transplant surgery using a HIV positive heart has been carried out in New York.
The pioneering surgery saw a heart and kidney from a HIV positive donor transplanted into a 60-year-old woman, in a surgery that was previously banned before 2013. Even now, the surgery is only permitted to be performed for research purposes.
The pioneering surgery has raised hopes that restrictions on HIV-positive organ donors will be lifted, which would allow for more heart transplants and donors.
For the US, the shortage of healthy donors has had a huge impact on the health system. It's estimated there are over 100,000 Americans waiting for a new organ, and more than a dozen people on that list dying each day.
Whilst it's believed that there will always be a greater demand for organs than the supply can meet, the current situation in the US shows 106,023 Americans waiting for an organ donation according to official data.
With only 40,000 transplants taking place each year, it leads to many patients waiting in hospital beds or even dying before they receive a new organ.
Before 2013, organs from HIV-positive donors could not be used; even if they were deemed otherwise healthy.
This latest surgery hopes to be able to use HIV-positive organs for HIV-positive patients, leading to more lives being saved.
Dr David Klassen, chief medical officer of the United Network for Organ Sharing told DailyMail.com: "This is something that has not been done before. It is part of a broader effort to use organs that have historically not been used."
He added: "Heart transplantation has always really been constrained. The treatment of HIV has changed so much over the years that was once a fatal illness is more of chronic illness."
The surgery was carried out by an expert team at New York's Montefiore, which is one of 25 hospitals in America eligible to perform the operation.
The team decided to transplant the heart and kidney to an unnamed woman in her 60s who was suffering from advanced heart failure and had been on a waiting list for an extended amount of time.
Dr Omar Saeed, a cardiologist at Montefiore told Bronx Times: "She was waiting for quite a bit of time and we thought why don't we discuss this with the patient? And she was really completely fine with and accepted the risks and benefits and signed consent."
The four hour surgery was performed successfully, and after five weeks in the hospital she is continuing recovery at home.
The pioneering surgery could see restrictions ease for HIV-positive transplants in future. In 2013, the HOPE (HIV Organ Policy Equity) Act passed, overturning the ban on HIV-positive donor and giving more options for infected people to receive crucial medical treatment.
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