The world’s first living donor liver transplant from an HIV-positive mother to her HIV-negative child, performed by our team in Johannesburg, South Africa (SA) in 2017, was necessitated by disease profile and health system challenges. In our country, we have a major shortage of donor organs, which compels us to consider innovative solutions to save lives. Simultaneously, the transition of the HIV pandemic, from a death sentence to a chronic illness with excellent survival on treatment required us to rethink our policies regarding HIV infection and living donor liver transplantation . Although HIV infection in the donor is internationally considered an absolute contraindication for transplant to an HIV-negative recipient, there have been a very small number of unintentional transplants from HIV-positive deceased donors to HIV-negative recipients. These transplant recipients do well on antiretroviral medication and their graft survival is not compromised. We have had a number of HIV-positive parents in our setting express a desire to be living liver donors for their critically ill children. Declining these parents as living donors has become increasingly unjustifiable given the very small deceased donor pool in SA; and because many of these parents are virally suppressed and would otherwise fulfil our eligibility criteria as living donors. This paper discusses the evolution of HIV and transplantation in SA, highlights some of the primary ethical considerations for us when embarking on this case and considers the new ethical issues that have arisen since we undertook this transplant.
- HIV infection and aids
- informed consent
This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
Contributors HRE: All drafts and ethics work on the project. JF: All drafts. MD: Transplant coordinator and draft checking. FC: Draft checking. CT: HIV sciences and draft checking. JB: PI and surgeon, all drafts.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Ethics approval Human Research Ethics Committee (Medical), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement There are no unpublished data relating to this study available.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.