HIV-positive patients will now be able to receive transplanted organs from HIV-positive donors at Yale New Haven Hospital .
The hospital is one of eight transplant centers to receive approval from the United Network for Organ Sharing in the United States to accept organs that are from HIV-positive donors, as a result of the 2013 HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act.
Before that, such transplant was considered illegal despite the proven success of HIV-positive to HIV-positive kidney transplants in South Africa and doctors were prevented from using organs from HIV positive donors.
"HIV patients are living longer due to effective anti-retroviral treatment," said Dr. Maricar Malinis, medical director of Transplant Infectious Diseases at Yale, in a news release. "They are more likely to suffer from chronic medical illnesses similar to our non-HIV patients. End-stage renal disease is a growing problem in the HIV population and there is an increased need for kidney transplantation."
This kind of transplant offers an advantage of reducing the waiting times for HIV-positive patients and also increases the availability of organs for patients who have been affected by the immune-weakening virus.
According to United Network for Organ Sharing, 218 HIV-positive patients received transplanted kidneys in 2015. Last year, 17,878 patients received kidney transplants in the United States. More than 4,200 died while waiting for a transplant.
"The shortage of donated organs is very real for our patients, as they wait day after day for that life-altering call that an organ is available for them," said Peter Yoo, MD, director, Surgical Residency, YNHH and director, Paired Kidney Exchange Program at YNHH in a news release. "We are proud and excited that the Yale New Haven Transplant Center is able to be part of the vanguard leading the push to increase opportunities for transplantation for all of our patients," he added.
Yale New Haven Hospital hopes to enroll its first patients for this program beginning this month.