Should HIV-Positive Patients Receive Scarce Lung Transplants?

Lamont ValentinQuite a while ago, I was co-author on a New England Journal of Medicine article arguing that HIV-positive patients, stable on anti-retro viral therapy, were now healthy enough to qualify as organ transplant recipients. Nevertheless, this practice remains controversial, as you can see from this story published by Al Jazeera America, telling a tragic tale of a man who did not receive a lung transplant:

In death, HIV-positive man may become a symbol of transplant hope for others

Lamont Valentin needed an oxygen tank to breathe. Everything he did — whether it was traveling by bus from his home in Harlem to his doctor’s office, teaching HIV-positive kids photography at a New York City nonprofit or taking care of his 2-year-old son — the tank accompanied him.

About a year and a half ago, it became clear a lung transplant was Valentin’s only hope to breathe easier. And he could have been a good candidate for the procedure — he was young and otherwise healthy. He, his friends and some medical experts believed he would have been able to survive for many more years if he had been given new lungs.

But when he began looking for a transplant, he was denied almost everywhere he turned, supporters said.

Holding him back was the virus he was born with in 1984, HIV. Early in life, before he began using modern antiretroviral drugs, it left him with permanent lung damage… (Read more here)

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