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HIV-positive heart donor’s family, recipient meet

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New York –

Brittany Newton’s family was heartbroken when she died of a brain aneurysm last spring at the age of 30. But this week, they feel close to her again and hear her heart beating in her chest at the grateful woman in New York whose organ transplant saved her life. rice field.

On Tuesday, Miriam Nieves, 62, embraced Newton’s mother and sisters, who they first met at Montefiore Medical Center, where he had a heart transplant last April.

“The only words given to me this Thanksgiving are that I am so grateful to science, my family, and God,” Nieves said. I can’t say enough about being angels because they gave me this second chance.”

Newton’s mother, Bridget Newton, had a big photo of her daughter, a certified nursing assistant who lived in Louisiana.

“My child is still walking around,” she said. “And for that I am eternally grateful.”

A former publicist who now lives in a suburb of New York City, Nieves overcame heroin addiction 30 years ago but remained HIV positive.

A married mother of three and a grandmother of six began experiencing heart failure after kidney problems.

To find matches at a time when donor shortages were acute, hospital doctors expanded their search to include HIV-positive donors. An organ donor, Newton, her family only learned of her HIV infection after her death.

Doctors transplanted her heart and kidney to Nieves.

Newton’s sisters, Brian and Brianka Newton, used stethoscopes to hear the heartbeat. Breanne Newton said she wasn’t surprised to hear Nieves say she felt better after the transplant.

“It was my sister. She had the energy. She was enthusiastic,” she said, adding, “We are very, very grateful. And it’s just a blessing.”

Surgeons have been transplanting organs from HIV-positive donors to HIV-positive recipients for several years, but this was the first heart transplant, according to Montefiore doctors.

Dr. Omar Said, a transplant cardiologist at Montefiore, said, “I think it will be done again because it has been shown to be safe.

“The reality is that more people need a heart than they have,” said Dr. Bagish Hemige, an infectious disease specialist at the hospital. “The HIV Heart Transplant Program enables people living with HIV to receive life-saving transplants from otherwise unused donors.”

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