WASHINGTON, DC - PFLAG National Executive Director Jody M. Huckaby reacted to today’s historic double transplant from an HIV-infected donor to an HIV-infected recipient:
“Today’s historic organ transplants of a liver and kidney from an HIV-infected deceased donor to recipients living with HIV infection would not have happened without passage of the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act, for which PFLAG members across the country fought so hard to become law. As a former leader of AIDS service organizations, I am personally proud that PFLAG holds HIV/AIDS policy as a health equity priority, especially for people of color, mostly gay and bisexual men, and transgender women.
I also can’t help but feel emotional as I recall the courageous life of Belynda Dunn, an African-American HIV-positive AIDS advocate in Massachusetts who was denied a life-saving organ transplant because of her HIV status and coinfection with Hepatitis C. When HIV/AIDS and social justice advocates including the late Mayor Thomas M. Menino from Boston raised private funds and finally got her insurer to allow the transplant, it was too late to save her life. Thanks to those who supported The HOPE Act, stories like Belynda’s will become more and more rare. In fact, as of today, 30 hospitals across the country that are qualified to perform these transplants have formed a consortium to prepare others to qualify.
PFLAGers everywhere thank the family of today’s generous donor, the organ recipients and their families, and these medical professionals, researchers and advocates; we all share this humble victory.”