JOSHUA TREE, Calif. -- Jeff Getty, a prominent AIDS activist who in 1995 received the first bone marrow transplant from a baboon to treat the disease, has died. He was 49.
Mr. Getty died Oct. 9 of heart failure following treatment for cancer and a long struggle with AIDS, at the High Desert Medical Center in Joshua Tree, said Ken Klueh, his partner of 26 years.
Before antiviral drug combinations were used successfully by AIDS patients, Mr. Getty in 1995 became the first person to receive a bone marrow cell transfusion from another species.
His transplant at San Francisco General Hospital used cells taken from a baboon, with the hope that the primate's natural AIDS resistance would bolster his own system.
The procedure, ultimately unsuccessful, sparked furious debate over the moral and medical implications of such transplants.
``That trial reflects the level of desperation at the time," said Dr. Steven Deeks, who was the experiment's lead investigator. ``Jeff was just hanging on to his life."
Mr. Getty was able to survive long enough for the advent of the AIDS drug cocktail, which helped curtail his illness.
Since being diagnosed with AIDS in the days when it was known as ``the gay cancer," Mr. Getty was a fierce activist, getting jailed for protesting against pharmaceutical companies.