Being HIV Positive can lead to organ failure over time…time that many patients can’t afford to wait.
Up until recently, there was little or no chance these folks could get an organ transplant.
Reynaldo Garza is finally building a healthy future after eight and a half years in limbo.
Not only was he suffering from kidney failure, but being HIV Positive all but guaranteed he couldn’t get a transplant.
“They would give a good organ to another person that’s not HIV. Because back then, if you’re HIV you were considered a high risk,” said Garza.
Garza’s luck began to improve when transplant surgeon Peter Stock figured why not let HIV positive donors give up their organs when called upon by HIV Positive recipients.
“Patients no longer progressed from having HIV to AIDS. We’re seeing this increasing number of patients that need transplants with HIV,” said Dr. Stock. “We know that the patients who have HIV don’t do as well on the waiting list.”
So Dr. Stock and his colleagues led the move to reverse both federal and state laws banning such operations.
Garza wasn’t worried about the risks.
“At that point, I was just so tired of doing dialysis that I was willing to do anything to get an organ transplant,” said Garza.
So after nearly nine years waiting for a kidney, Garza was one of the first in California to receive an HIV to HIV transplant.
“It’s totally changed my life,” he said.
“The prognosis is as good as HIV negative patients,” said Dr. Stock.
“I just saw the doctors,” said Garza. “‘Just keep up the good work,’ they said.”
“Sort of exciting times,“ said Dr. Stock.
HIV patients typically now have to wait about a year before being eligible for a transplant. Right now, 25 hospitals across the country participate in the HIV to HIV donor program.