HIV patient gets second chance with life-changing organ transplant

STANFORD, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Being HIV positive can lead to organ failure over time. It's time that many patients can’t afford to wait, and 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,” shared Reynaldo.

Reynaldo’s luck began to improve when transplant surgeon Peter Stock, MD, at UCSF figured why not let HIV positive donors give up their organs when called upon by HIV positive recipients.     

Dr. Stock said, “Patients no longer progressed from having HIV to AIDS. We’re seeing this increasing number of patients that need transplants with HIV. We know that the patients who have HIV don’t do as well on the waiting list.”          

So Stock and his colleagues led the move to reverse both federal and state laws banning such operations.        

“Let’s go,” Dr. Stock said.

Reynaldo smiled, “I was like sign me up.”

Reynaldo 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,” explained Reynaldo.

So after nearly nine years waiting for a kidney …

Reynaldo was one of the first in California to receive an HIV to HIV transplant.

 “It’s totally changed my life,” Reynaldo exclaimed.     

“The prognosis is as good as HIV negative patients,” Dr. Stock continued.

“I just saw the doctors. Just keep up the good work, they said,” Reynaldo told Ivanhoe. 

“Sort of exciting times,” smiled Dr. Stock.

HIV patients typically now have to wait about a year before being eligible for a transplant. Right now there are 25 hospitals across the country which participate in the HIV to HIV donor program, including John Hopkins, Yale, and Mount Sinai.

Contributors to this news report include: Jennifer Winter, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Rusty Reed, Videographer.