NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — History made with the help of Yale-New Haven Hospital. The groundbreaking first ever kidney transplant between HIV positive patients in the country and the first ever HIV positive to HIV positive liver transplant in the world occurred on March 19.
The transplant breakthrough began at Yale New Haven Hospital in the intensive care unit.
It’s where a family of an HIV patient, losing her struggle to stay alive, made the decision that ultimately impacted the lives of two other HIV patients on the waiting list for a kidney and liver.
“The family actually asked the social worker if there is some means for them to donate the organs,” says transplant infectious diseases specialist Dr. Maricar Malinis. She got the call that triggered the breakthrough transplant.
That led to more calls, working with the hospital organ transplant team, the New England Donor Bank and Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore.
Both transplants were done at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Dr. Dorry Segev with Johns Hopkins Health System explains, “This means that one if you have HIV you can be an organ donor and two, if you have HIV and you needed a transplant, now your chances of getting one are so much higher.”
At a news conference on Wednesday, the family of the donor, who was a mother, a sister, and aunt, wanted to remain anonymous but released a statement.
The head of the New England Donor Bank, Alex Glazier read,
“The staff at Yale-New Haven Hospital ER and ICU unit kept fighting for her, never giving up, even with the poor odds she faced. With their help and the drive behind New England Donor Bank, she was able to leave this world helping those underdogs she fought so hard for.”
Dr. Malinis credits the close coordination among the departments, enabling the hospital to be forever linked to the historic procedures.
She says, “We are always here for our patients so if they have certain questions or concerns we are willing to listen to them and try to answer those questions and help them. I think everyone here does the extra step to provide good patient care.”
President Obama signed The Hope Act in 2013 — that now allows doctors to use organs from HIVV positive donors.
The patient with the donated kidney is now home recovering.
The person who received the donated liver is still in the hospital but is expected to go home in a few days.
The transplantation department at Yale-New Haven Hospital is hopeful that by fall — it too can offer a similar protocol.