Largely favourable outcome for HIV+ transplant recipients
In the past three years persons with HIV have finally begun to receive liver and kidney transplants at various transplant centres in the US and Europe.
The results are not always successful: Boston AIDS and hepatitis activist Belynda Dunn’s liver transplant ended with her death on March 12. Her new liver did not function, and she expired due to a lung complication as doctors were trying to transplant a second organ.
Surgical complications, as occurred with Dunn, are to blame for most early deaths in persons with or without HIV. Overall, few liver transplant patients die soon after the procedure, and the five-year survival rate for HIV-negative patients has been about 80%.
A successful liver transplant was recently performed on HIV-positive playwright Larry Kramer of New York. It made national headlines. And Alan Hext, a pioneer of these transplants, received his new liver in December 1998. He remains alive and well in Southern California. Pittsburgh University Medical Center’s Dr John Fung performed all three of these operations and believes that postoperative long-term survival looks promising for Hext, Kramer and others like them. While Kramer fights for independence and immediate recovery, Hext’s health has returned to what it was years ago – before hepatitis C destroyed his liver, and nearly his life.