The Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre in Johannesburg has announced the world’s first ever liver transplant from an HIV positive mother to her HIV negative child with final stage liver disease.

The mother and child have fully recovered; a year after surgeons performed the transplant.

The HIV status of the child is unknown at this stage.

The medical breakthrough has been announced at a media conference at Wits University.

The baby was born HIV negative from her HIV positive mother, thanks to the success of the prevention of mother to child transmission programme.

The 13-month-old baby was critically ill from a condition called Biliary Atresia which is not related to HIV and can only be cured through a liver transplant.

The child had been on the waiting list for a deceased donor for six months compared to the average 45 days.

Doctors believe this case is unique because it involved a donation from a living individual who is HIV+.

In choosing to save the child’s life, doctors had to balance risks of transmitting HIV to the child.