Giving Thanks for a Lifesaving HIV-Optimistic Coronary heart Transplant [VIDEO]

Miriam Nieves, a 62-year-old HIV-positive grandmother, has a lot to be pleased about this Thanksgiving. For one factor, the Westchester, New York, resident has a brand new coronary heart. This previous spring, she acquired the world’s first HIV-positive to HIV-positive coronary heart transplant (she additionally acquired a simultaneous kidney transplant). And for one more factor, Nieves returned to Montefiore Health Center in Bronx, New York, this week and was capable of meet the donor’s household for the primary time and categorical her gratitude. The donor, Brittany Newton, lived in Louisiana and died at age 30.

“I’m so grateful to the Newton household and to Montefiore for taking an opportunity and lengthening my life,” Nieves mentioned in a Montefiore press statement. “I hope different individuals see my story and begin the dialog about organ donation as they collect with their households this Thanksgiving. I additionally hope to encourage extra individuals to turn into organ donors and see that they’ve the ability to avoid wasting lives.”

“Sadly, many individuals with HIV ready for a coronary heart by no means obtain one,” added Nieves’s heart specialist at Montefiore, Omar Saeed, MD, MS, who can be an affiliate professor of medication on the hospital’s Albert Einstein School of Medication. “By efficiently managing Ms. Nieves’s care, we now have proven that HIV-positive donors are a lifeline, and we encourage extra individuals to contemplate sharing this lifesaving present.”

The profitable transplant is just the most recent of many triumphs for Nieves, who beat drug addiction—a interval throughout which she contracted HIV—loved a profession, raised three youngsters along with her husband of 27 years, Julio Pagan, and is a proud grandmother to 6 grandchildren. The truth is, a number of of her relations accompanied her to the assembly with the donor’s household.

From left: Bridgette Newton with a photo of heart donor Brittany Newton, transplant recipient Miriam Nieves and her husband, Julio Pagan

HIV-positive coronary heart transplant recipient Miriam Nieves (in purple) with relations of donor Brittany Newton and the medical staff at MontefioreCourtesy of Montefiore Well being System

For a few years, Nieves managed her HIV and was wholesome, however in 2006, she started experiencing well being points and was recognized with kidney cancer. The cancerous kidney was eliminated, however when the remaining kidney began to fail, she needed to bear dialysis each night time. By the point a match for a kidney transplant was discovered, her coronary heart was not wholesome sufficient for the surgical procedure.

Nieves had been on a coronary heart transplant ready checklist for “for fairly a little bit of time,” Saeed told Bronx Times when the transplant was introduced final summer season. So to extend her possibilities of discovering a donor, Saeed and his medical staff requested whether or not she’d be prepared to obtain a transplant from one other particular person with HIV. “She was actually utterly fantastic with [that] and accepted the dangers and advantages and signed consent,” Saeed mentioned, including: “This can be a main accomplishment for us. However for me, I’m in awe of her bravery, and I’m simply amazed by her energy.”

The groundbreaking transplant occurred almost a decade after Congress handed the HIV Organ Coverage Fairness (HOPE) Act, which President Barack Obama signed into legislation in 2013. Earlier than that, transplants between two HIV-positive individuals had been unlawful.

The first HIV-to-HIV transplant didn’t take place until 2016, when Johns Hopkins Medical Middle in Baltimore carried out the nation’s first organ transplants (a kidney and liver) from an HIV-positive donor to HIV-positive recipients. These two transplants, like most since, concerned a deceased HIV-positive donor.

In 2019, Nina Martinez, a 36-year-old Atlanta lady who had contracted HIV from a blood transfusion as a new child, grew to become the first living HIV-positive kidney donor.

In associated information, the federal government revised guidelines for organ transplants in June 2020 that would end in extra organ donations. Notably, the replace included new standards for figuring out donors with doubtlessly undetected HIV and hepatitis B and C viruses (HBV and HCV). Thanks partially to advances in testing and remedy, extra organs can now be accepted from individuals who would have been categorised as an elevated danger donor.


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