Tulane University Hospital to Perform Kidney Transplants for HIV-Positive Patients
People with HIV are now eligible to receive kidney transplants at Tulane University Hospital in New Orleans, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Dr. Douglas Slakey, director of abdominal transplantation at Tulane, said the hospital's final review board voted two weeks ago to approve the procedure for HIV-positive patients. "I think it's the right thing to do because I believe there are people out there who will benefit from it and shouldn't be excluded," he added, noting that 15 other centers throughout the country perform organ transplants on people with HIV. The hospital has only approved kidney transplants, which are "less complex than other transplantations" and carry a relatively low risk for recipients and living donors. However, the hospital will not perform transplants on people who have been diagnosed with AIDS because "their systems probably are too frail to withstand the surgery," Slakey said. He added that he plans to rely largely on living donors -- such as relatives and close friends -- for transplants involving HIV-positive patients to "ward off criticism that such procedures squander cadaver organs." The United Network of Organ Sharing, which controls cadaver donations across the nation, has since 1987 said that HIV status should not prevent an individual from being accepted onto the organ recipient waiting list. The Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency, which coordinates organ procurement and allotment in the state, said it does not inquire about a recipient's HIV status. "We know very little about the recipients when we're offering the organs," Development Director John Egan said, adding that "most [transplant] patients have had some sort of disease process going on, so whose business is it if the patient has HIV?" (Pope, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 3/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.