ERIE, Pa., Jan. 22, 2015 – The private organization that manages the nation’s organ sharing network has given approval for UPMC surgeons to start performing kidney transplants at UPMC Hamot. The decision by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) means kidney recipients in northwestern Pennsylvania will have access to the same world-class care offered at UPMC hospitals in Pittsburgh, where organ transplantation was pioneered and perfected.
UPMC officials expect to begin performing kidney transplant surgeries, with organs from both living and deceased donors, at Hamot starting this summer. It will mark the first time that UPMC has performed transplant surgeries outside of Pittsburgh.
“This is a really exciting time for the UPMC transplant program. Over the last several years, we’ve expanded our clinics across western Pennsylvania and are seeing more patients for clinic visits where they live, instead of having them travel to Pittsburgh,” said Abhinav Humar, M.D., UPMC’s chief of transplantation. “Now we have our first opportunity to perform transplant surgeries outside of Pittsburgh, and hopefully offer this lifesaving procedure to many more people living with kidney disease.”
Officials estimate that about 250 patients who are currently being evaluated for transplants, are on the waiting list, or are post-transplant will have their care transferred from Pittsburgh to Hamot. Over the next few months, officials at UPMC Hamot plan to spread the word about the new program through community outreach and town hall meetings. Dates for the meetings are still being determined.
“UPMC has led the way in organ transplantation, from performing first-of-its kind procedures to developing drug regimens that made it possible for transplant survivors to thrive. Now patients can stay here in our community to get the benefit of these amazing innovations,” said David P. Gibbons, M.H.A., R.N., UPMC Hamot’s chief operating officer.
The transplant team at Hamot is currently being assembled and will consist of individuals based at Hamot as well as individuals from the transplant program at Pittsburgh, allowing for a close partnership with the University of Pittsburgh’s Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute. The institute’s namesake, Dr. Starzl, is considered by many to be the father of transplantation.
Since 1981, UPMC has performed more than 17,000 organ transplants, and has developed some of the most extensive clinical expertise in the field, giving hope to patients across the country and around the world.