Shortage of organs in Georgia, nationally
The passage of the law in 2013 and the beginning of such HIV-to-HIV surgeries couldn’t have come soon enough for those on the waiting list for an organ.
“There’s a real shortage of organs in this country,” Miller says. “It’s another innovative way to free up more organs to save more lives.”
The latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that there are about 123,000 people on the waiting list for organs nationally, with nearly 5,700 of those living in Georgia (90 percent of which are in need of a kidney transplant). Just one donor could potentially benefit 60 people according to the LifeLink Foundation, a national nonprofit organization that facilitates the donation of organs and tissues. LifeLink of Georgia serves 193 hospitals across the state.
“LifeLink supports the HOPE Act as an opportunity to save more lives through organ transplantation, and it will be our honor to help the families of individuals who are HIV-positive fulfill their loved ones’ decision to give the gift of life through organ donation,” says Kaysha Cranon, senior public affairs coordinator in the Atlanta office of LifeLink.
The Emory study on HIV-to-HIV transplants is now being reviewed by the IRB and, once approved, will be open for enrollment of HIV-positive patients in need of a kidney transplant. So what do HIV-positive people in the Atlanta area who are in need of a kidney do to enroll?
“If they have kidney failure, they’d be under the care of a nephrologist, and they would need to request that their primary care team refer them to Emory for a kidney transplant,” says Dr. Tom Pearson, executive director of the Emory Transplant Center and professor of surgery at Emory University School of Medicine. “They would need to be evaluated here at Emory for a kidney transplant just like any other patient.”
The five patients enrolled in the study at Emory and 30 enrolled nationwide will be followed up with for up to three years, with national study-wide completion estimated to occur by June 2019.