Adam Castillejo who was dubbed the “London Patient” by doctors, who opted to anonymize him has granted his first interview, a year after doctors cleared him of any HIV antibodies.
Mr. Castillejo, 40, from Venezuela, who was first diagnosed with the virus at age 23 in 2003, was similarly diagnosed with blood cancer in 2012. As a last ditched effort to keep him alive, doctors suggested a stem cell transplant.
In May 2016, the procedure was carried out using stem cells from a donor with HIV-resistant genes, which resorted to the wiping out of HIV antibodies and cancer in one fell swoop.
Mr. Castillejo, who’s life had spiraled out of control at one point, owing to those two life threatening conditions had also contemplated suicide, was given a clean bill of health.
This feat in the medical world makes Mr. Castillejo the second person in the world to have successfully undergone the life threatening procedure. The first was Timothy Ray Brown, dubbed the “Berlin Patient”, who was treated 12 years ago in Germany.
“This is a unique position to be in”, “I want to be an ambassador of hope”. Mr. Castillejo said in an interview with the New York Times.
Even as the feat is being celebrated, doctors are calling for caution as the procedure is expensive, life threatening and in both cases, the treatment was intended to treat cancer, not HIV. This offers little or no consolation to the 37 million people worldwide, said to be living with the virus.