Duke surgeons perform groundbreaking HIV organ transplant

DURHAM, NC -- It's the first of its kind in the entire southeast region.

Credit: Duke Health

Surgeons at Duke Health performed an organ transplant from a deceased HIV-positive donor to an HIV-positive recipient.

Until a few years ago, this type of transplant had been illegal.

In 2015 clinical evidence deemed it safe, and the federal government implemented the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act.

Dr. Cameron Wolfe, Associate Professor of Medicine, had to then lobby North Carolina lawmakers to change state law, enabling the first North Carolina transplant between a donor and recipient who are both HIV positive.

A few days before Christmas in 2017, Stanley Boling, who tested HIV positive with a failing liver, became the first transplant patient.

"When I first came here and talked to you, you gave me two options," Boling said in a Duke Health testimonial video.

"You said, you can say you want a non-HIV liver, or we have the HOPE Act where you can accept an HIV liver and maybe get it sooner. I mean, the possibility of getting it sooner, and I liked that. And I'm not afraid of the HIV, not after being treated for so long. I wasn't afraid of that."