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World’s First HIV-Positive Heart Transplant Performed Successfully

An HIV-positive woman in her 60s has recovered from a simultaneous heart and kidney transplant.

Yesterday, Montefiore Health System reported that they had successfully performed the first HIV-positive to HIV-positive heart transplant.

The patient, an HIV-positive woman in her 60s, experienced advanced heart failure. She received the life-saving heart transplant, and a simultaneous kidney transplant, in early spring 2022.

“This was a complicated case and a true multidisciplinary effort by cardiology, surgery, nephrology, infectious disease, critical care and immunology," said Dr. Omar Saeed, the patient’s cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

The surgery took 4 hours, and Montefiore is 1 of only 25 health centers in the United States authorized to perform it.

The complicated nature of HIV makes it difficult for patients living with the disease to give and receive organs. In 2013, the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act allowed people living with HIV to donate organs to HIV-positive recipients. Until now, however, this had never been utilized for heart transplantation.

“Making this option available to people living with HIV expands the pool of donors and means more people, with or without HIV, will have quicker access to a lifesaving organ,” Saeed said. “To say we are proud of what this means for our patients and the medical community at large, is an understatement.”

After 5 weeks of recovering in the hospital, the patient has transitioned to seeing her transplant physicians for regular monitoring at Montefiore.

“The goal of the Montefiore heart transplant team is to constantly push and establish new standards so that anyone who is appropriate for an organ transplant can benefit from this life-saving procedure,” said Daniel Goldstein, MD, professor and Vice Chair, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Surgical Director, Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgery Cardiac Transplantation & Mechanical Assistance Programs, Montefiore and Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Einstein).

Montefiore Health System is one of New York’s academic healthcare systems, in located in the Bronx. Comprised of 10 hospitals and over 200 outpatient ambulatory care locations, Montefiore serves approximately 3 million people in the Bronx, Westchester, and Hudson Valley.