Emory Transplant Center performs its first HIV-positive kidney transplant from HIV-positive deceased donor

Woodruff Health Sciences Center | Feb. 14, 2017

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Janet Christenbury
404-727-8599
jmchris@emory.edu

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In 2016, 20 patients at four different centers received new organs in the HOPE in Action clinical trial. Research shows that HIV-positive transplant recipients have similar patient survival rates and kidney and liver graft survival rates post-transplant as non-HIV-positive recipients.
The Emory Transplant Center has performed its first HIV-positive kidney transplant from an HIV-positive deceased donor, made possible by the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act. After being on the wait list for three-and-a-half-years, the patient consented to receive an HIV-positive kidney, was placed on an additional wait list for HOPE Act participants, and received a kidney.
 
Not only was this Emory’s first HIV to HIV kidney transplant, it is also the first of its kind in Georgia and the first HIV to HIV positive kidney transplant in 2017.
 
Today, February 14, is National Organ Donor Day, a day to increase awareness about organ donation and the lives that can be saved.
 
Emory and eight other centers nationwide are taking part in the HOPE in Action clinical trial -- a prospective, pilot study to evaluate the safety of HIV-positive deceased donor solid organ transplants (kidney and liver) in HIV-positive recipients. They will also research any complications that may arise in recipients after transplant. Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore is leading and sponsoring the study across the U.S.
 
Stable HIV-infected adults with end-stage kidney disease who meet study-specific HIV criteria for organ transplantation will be offered enrollment in the study at Emory. Currently, Emory is enrolling participants for HIV-positive to HIV-positive kidney transplants, with a plan to include liver transplant patients in the near future.
 
"With 120,000 people on the wait list for a kidney transplant, and about 10,000 people living with HIV who are on dialysis, the HOPE Act gives us new opportunities to save more lives, rather than turning down organ donations from HIV-positive donors," says Nicole Turgeon, MD, associate professor of surgery, Division of Transplantation, Emory University School of Medicine and principal investigator of this study at Emory.
 
"Patients living with HIV are living longer because their disease is now considered manageable with good antiretroviral therapies. This means we are seeing more patients who are HIV-positive in need of organ transplants. The HOPE Act ensures a greater number of people will receive the life-saving transplant they need," explains Turgeon.
 
The HOPE Act was enacted in November 2013, but did not become effective until November 2015, following the development and publication of research criteria for HIV-positive organ donations to HIV-positive recipients. The Organ Procurement and Transplant Network Final Rule details the complete research criteria.
 
In 2016, 20 patients at four different centers received new organs in the HOPE in Action clinical trial. Research shows that HIV-positive transplant recipients have similar patient survival rates and kidney and liver graft survival rates post-transplant as non-HIV-positive recipients. This is good news for patients with HIV who need a transplant.
 
"We thank this donor and the donor’s family for giving life to others during their time of sorrow, and the excellent work of LifeLink of Georgia that made this transplant possible," says Turgeon. "We want to encourage others, with or without HIV, to register to be organ donors and to tell their families of their decision to help others. Go to donatelifegeorgia.org to learn more."
 
Study participants will be followed and evaluated for four years after their transplant.