City Organ Recipient Contracted HIV Through Transplant

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An organ recipient at a New York City hospital contracted HIV from a live kidney donor, according to the New York State Department of Health.

The transplant took place in 2009 but officials said they learned of it last year and are not identifying the hospital to protect patient privacy. It's the country's first documented case of HIV transmission from a living organ donor since a test to screen for the virus was introduced in 1985.

The case comes to light in the most recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health providers screened the kidney donor about 10 weeks prior to transplant surgery, and the initial tests showed no evidence of infection. In the time prior to surgery, the donor had unprotected sex.

Claudia Hutton, Director of Public Affairs for the New York State Health Department, said the case is very rare.
"It's not something that should prevent people from seeking a transplant if they need it, and it's not something that should prevent people from being living donors if they're in a position to do so," she said.

Hutton said the hospital in this case did nothing wrong and followed the correct screening protocol. But she said the CDC and the Health Department is now recommending that health care facilities screen potential donors again no longer than seven days before a transplant procedure.