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Wits doctors call for funding after landmark liver transplant

Doctors say the lifesaving procedure could pave way for more such operations, but they need more funding into their research.

A screengrab of Wits surgeon doctor Jean Botha. Picture: YouTube.

JOHANNESBURG - Surgeons from Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre who performed a landmark lifesaving liver transplant are appealing for more private funding to continue such operations.

They are believed to be the first in the world to transplant an organ from a living HIV-positive donor to an HIV-negative recipient.

Doctors say the lifesaving procedure could pave the way for more such operations, but they need more funding into their research.

WATCH: HIV+ liver transplant saves child's life

Historically, people living with HIV are not allowed to donate organs because the virus can be transmitted via the donated organ.

But following the ground-breaking operation, that could soon change.

Wits surgeon doctor Jean Botha says it’s not possible without adequate funding.

“Liver transplantation has been made accessible to all the children needing this form of therapy regardless of their prior status. This has been made possible through collaboration with the Department of Health.”

After numerous tests, the doctors did not detect any HIV-infection in the child's bloodstream.

Botha says this procedure could alleviate pressure on the country’s severe shortage of organ donors.

“Unfortunately, the availability of organs has not kept pace with the growing demand, and sadly this results in children dying while waiting for these lifesaving organs.”

Botha says this could unlock a new pool of donors.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)