Woman gets heart from HIV-positive donor

[anvplayer video=”5149418″ station=”998132″]

A woman who received a life-saving heart donation met the donor’s family for the on Tuesday.

The transplant happened in April at Montefiore Moses Hospital in the Bronx, New York City. Doctors there say this is the first time a heart from an HIV-positive donor was successfully transplanted into an HIV-positive recipient.

Miriam Nieves, now 62 and a married mother of three children and six grandchildren, beat a heroin addiction 30 years ago but was left HIV-positive.

Nieves, a former public relations professional who now lives in Westchester, north of New York City, started experiencing heart failure after problems with her kidneys.

The shortage of organ donors is so acute that doctors at the hospital expanded their search to include HIV-positive donors and found a match.

There’s no count of how many HIV-positive patients are among themore than 100,000 people on the nation’s waiting list for an organ transplant. HIV-positive patients can receive transplants from HIV-negative donors just like anyone else.

In Louisiana, 1,500 miles away, 30-year-old Brittany Newton, a certified nursing assistant who worked with the elderly, died of a brain aneurysm, according to her family.

After her death, her family learned she was HIV-positive. She was also an organ donor. Doctors at Montefiore Moses Hospital transplanted her heart and kidney into Nieves successfully.

During this week of Thanksgiving, the family of Brittany Newton flew to New York City to meet Nieves, who told them she was grateful to be alive. Newton’s mother, Bridgette, told Nieves she was thankful her daughter’s heart was still beating.

The families of both the donor and the recipient urged people to become organ donors, even if they think they are not eligible because they are HIV-positive.


AP video shot by Ted Shaffrey