Getting his life back from HIV - Fondation du CHUM

“I want us to continue to grow our understanding of HIV so that we can finally eradicate this devastating disease for good. Together, we have the power to do this!”

Denis Cormier-Piché
who received North America’s first-ever HIV-positive
to HIV-positive organ transplant at the CHUM

Getting his life back from HIV

Since human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was discovered in the early 80s, global efforts and major investments in research have helped turn the deadly disease into a manageable chronic illness. Now, HIV positive people can expect to live just as long as their peers who don’t have HIV. Denis is a striking example.

Denis, who is 68 years old, learned that he was HIV-positive in 2001. At first, he didn’t tell anyone about his diagnosis.

Denis developed symptoms of kidney failure from infection in 2007. For three years, he was on dialysis, followed a strict diet of potassium and phosphorus, and drank no more than a litre of liquid a day—which kept him in a state of constant thirst. That is, until the CHUM broke surgical ground and radically changed Denis’s life.

Denis had been waiting three years for a kidney when his doctors finally found him a donor. Only one problem: the donor also had HIV, and an organ transplant between two HIV-positive people had never been tried at the CHUM.

Denis became the first HIV-positive person in North America to receive a kidney transplant from an HIV-positive donor. This operation saved his life and gave him a quality of life he could never have dreamed of before. That’s when he made the decision to step out of the shadows and speak publicly about his experience to help destigmatize people living with HIV.

“Thanks to the CHUM, I received some of the most advanced care out there. There is no treatment yet that can eradicate HIV, so research remains our greatest hope. Research is the source of new solutions like the organ transplant I received.

Denis checks back in with the CHUM every six months, including to monitor his new organ and his chronic HIV infection. If he can maintain an undetectable viral load, he can’t pass the virus on to anyone else. For many years, Denis worked for an organization fighting homophobia and transphobia. Now retired, he generously dedicates part of his free time to the CHUM, acting as a patient partner for a number of projects and committees.

“Our healthcare system has a real culture of innovation and it’s that culture is in full swing at the CHUM. I really care about making a difference there, for all the patients who will come after me.”

Acting faster than HIV means continuing to invest in research that has the potential to save lives—lives like Denis’s. Thanks to your donations, a future where HIV is a curable disease is right around the corner.

Soyons plus proches que jamais,
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Soyons plus proches que jamais,
inscrivez-vous à notre infolettre!

Soyons plus proches que jamais,
inscrivez-vous à notre infolettre!