Breakthrough in HIV-HIV Kidney Donation at Johns Hopkins


Neil Mehta, Staff Writer

A medical team at Johns Hopkins made history last week when they performed the first successful HIV-to-HIV kidney transplant with a living donor. This significant breakthrough suggests a promising future for those living with HIV, as donating kidneys is now proven both possible and safe.

To fully understand the risks associated with such a procedure, the researchers studied the incidence rates of End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) among HIV-positive participants by following them for a median of 5 years, versus the incidence of ESRD among HIV-negative persons. The studies found that HIV-positive individuals with well-controlled disease “may be considered low-risk kidney donor candidates.”

The procedure itself was conducted at Johns Hopkins Hospital on donor Nina Martinez, who donated her kidney successfully last week on Monday. At first, Martinez planned to donate to a friend living with HIV in need of a transplant. However, this friend passed away before she could be cleared for the procedure. Martinez, a clinical research volunteer and HIV policy advocate, did not stop here, instead choosing to give her kidney to an anonymous recipient.

This historical procedure has significant long-term significance for individuals living with HIV today. As medical research advances, HIV-positive individuals with timely diagnoses have reached life expectancies that were seemingly impossible only decades ago. Now, they will be able to save the lives of others as kidney donors. The kidney transplant waitlist in the United States is the longest of any organ, and with approximately thirteen deaths daily waiting for a kidney, additional donations could ensure that lives will be saved.