Wayne State University medical researchers lead nation in "Highest-Risk" kidney transplants: Achieve best outcomes with low rejection and infection rates in HIV positive patients

December 22, 2008

A team of Wayne State University Medical School researchers, led by world-renowned transplant surgeon Dr. Scott Gruber, has unlocked the key to successful kidney transplants among the "highest-risk" patients in the nation.

According to Gruber, data shows that rates of rejection in HIV positive patients reported by other transplant centers nationwide ranged from 43% to 67%. In contrast, the transplant program of Wayne State/DMC Harper University Hospital reported only a 13% incidence of rejection. In addition, DMC Harper University Hospital's kidney transplant program had among the shortest hospital stays in the nation.

"We are the first transplant center to effectively equalize the rejection risk for HIV positive patients to that of the general population," Gruber said. "We did this by developing a protocol that uses higher doses of one anti-rejection medication early on, while closely monitoring the drug levels of another, and making frequent adjustments to balance the risk of rejection and drug side-effects." DMC Harper University Hospital, led by surgeons affiliated with Wayne State University, was the first to perform kidney transplants in HIV positive recipients in the state of Michigan, and was the first single center in the country to report "a low incidence of acute rejection while simultaneously having low infection rates and excellent overall outcomes in HIV positive patients," Gruber said.

DMC Harper University Hospital is among the few medical centers in the country that is taking on the challenge and complexities of performing kidney transplants in the HIV positive population. HIV positive patients are now living longer and encountering many of the same health problems as the general population. For example, high blood pressure is a common contributor to kidney failure in both HIV positive and negative patients.

"These transplants are considerably more challenging to perform due to interactions between the anti-rejection and HIV medications," said Gruber. "Our unprecedented success is, I believe, due in large part to the critical partnership between Wayne State University Medical School and the Detroit Medical Center, which have combined the best in medical research and clinical experience to serve the needs of people."

Wayne State University is a premier institution of higher education offering more than 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 31,000 students. Wayne State University Medical School provides health care for more than 80 percent of Detroit's uninsured and underinsured population.