That list is long — for kidneys, more than 100,000 people are in line — and thousands die waiting each year. There’s no count of how many of those waiting have HIV, but Segev said it increases the risk of death while waiting.
If the new approach works, one hope is that it could free up space on the waiting list as HIV-positive patients take advantage of organs available only to them. Segev estimated that 300 to 500 would-be donors who are HIV-positive die each year, potentially enough kidneys and livers for 1,000 additional transplants.
“It increases the pool of potential organ donors and allows more people to be transplanted. That’s the advantage of this whole thing, but it is a research project so we are going to monitor it very carefully,” said Dr. David Klassen of the United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees the nation’s transplant system.
Hopkins is the first transplant center given permission to study what’s being called HIV-positive to HIV-positive transplants. Two others — Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia and Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York — also are approved for the research, according to the UNOS.