The WU/Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center hit a high mark on January 4, 2019, one that has been achieved by fewer than 5% of transplant programs nationwide. The center performed its 10,000th adult solid organ transplant in the past 56 years. That landmark transplant was a kidney.
“It is a major milestone of our transplant center,” says Tarek Alhamad, MD, MS, FACP, FASN, the Division of Nephrology’s new Medical Director of Transplant Nephrology, who oversees both kidney and pancreas transplantations.
The kidney transplant program is one of the largest programs in the country and is responsible for more than half of all the transplants performed by the transplant center. The kidney transplant program reached its own milestone in 2018, performing more than 5,000 kidney transplants.
Ms. Marti Simon, 69, of Ballwin, MO, the recipient of the 10,000th transplanted organ, received her kidney from a living donor through the WU/Barnes-Jewish pairing program. When a patient has a willing donor but their organs are not compatible, the transplant center compares other donors/recipients (who are also not compatible) until they find a match for a paired exchange. The transplant center at WU/Barnes-Jewish participates in local and national paired exchanges and has participated in some of the largest transplant chains in the country.
In addition to maintaining the successful outcomes of kidney transplantation here, which rank among the best in the world, one of Dr. Alhamad’s main goals is to expand the living donor kidney transplant program. He is establishing new methods to educating kidney transplant candidates on how to find donors and to stress the importance of living donors. He recently held a panel discussion to discuss misconceptions about kidney transplant criteria. Alhamad also hopes to broaden overall access to transplant nephrology services in both Missouri and Illinois.
“Our success would not be possible without strong team work,” says Alhamad, acknowledging the hard work of his colleagues Drs. Andrew Malone, Rowena Delos Santos and Anuja Java, Nurse Practitioners Kelsie Mooney and Helen Wijeweera, Physician’s Assistant Brittany Heady, as well as all of the coordinators, surgeons, social workers and others on the transplant team.
“We will continue our commitment and dedication in providing excellent care before and after organ transplant,” says Alhamad, who is also principal investigator of several clinical trials investigating new medications and diagnostic measures for monitoring rejection and other complications after transplant. The center is one of the few that monitors donor-derived cell-free DNA (dd-cfDNA), a sensitive biomarker used to evaluate graft health in kidney transplant recipients. “We are so excited that we are able to provide novel therapies and strategies to prolong the life of kidney and pancreas transplant patients.”
Local news organizations broadcasted the 10,000th transplant milestone. See: How one program at a local hospital is affecting countless lives, KMOV News 4; 10,000th organ recipient gets new kidney, KTVI FOX 2; and A kidney transplant reunion you have to see to believe KSDK-NBC.