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SA's first liver transplant surgery from HIV+ mother to HIV- baby

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says this pioneer operation presents a potential new pool of living donors that could save lives.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi addresses the media at the HIV liver transplant press conference on 4 October 2018. Picture: @WitsUniversity/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - Wits University doctors have revealed details about South Africa's first liver transplant from a mother living with HIV to her HIV negative baby who would otherwise have died.

The groundbreaking surgery took place when the baby was 13 months old.

The child was born with end-stage liver failure.

Both mother and baby have fully recovered, however, doctors are unsure of the HIV status of the child.

They’re currently keeping the child on antiretrovirals and are unsure when they will conduct further tests.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says this pioneer operation presents a potential new pool of living donors that could save lives.

‘CHANCE TO LIVE’

Doctors at the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre say there's no guarantee that a baby did not contract the virus.

Dr Jean Botha, who performed the transplant believed to be the first of its kind, says it’s the best chance the critically ill child had to stay alive.

“Even if the child develops HIV afterwards, we’ve given this child the opportunity to live a normal, healthy childhood.”

Specialist Francesca Conradie says they may have to stop the ARVs to check if the child is HIV negative. But she says this is not necessary yet.

“We are in uncharted waters. The child is tolerating the medication very well.”

Doctors say the family has asked to remain anonymous and wants the gender of the child to be withheld.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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