Lutheran Hospital Performs Its 100th Kidney Transplant in Less than Four Years

Major Milestone Reached Despite Decreasing Number of Organ Donors

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Tuesday, June 7, 2011) — History was made at Lutheran Hospital on Sunday, June 5, when Lutheran's kidney transplant team performed the facility's 100th kidney transplant. Lutheran's kidney transplant program is approaching its four-year anniversary next week. Lutheran Transplant Center, which includes both heart and kidney transplant programs, is the only transplant facility in Indiana outside of Indianapolis.

"This momentous milestone of 100 kidney transplants at Lutheran demonstrates the strength of our program," said Joe Dorko, CEO, Lutheran Health Network. "I applaud the large team of dedicated professionals who make these miracles of transplant happen on a regular basis. From the surgeons and nurses to the follow-up case workers, each associate and physician contributes greatly to improving the quality of life for our patients."

Fifty-two percent of the kidney transplants performed at Lutheran Hospital came from living organ donors. Living donors do not face increased risk of dying earlier or developing kidney disease as the result of donation.

"A transplant program requires a high-caliber team to establish and maintain its success, where perfection is the standard," said Tarik Kizilisik, MD, kidney transplant program director and transplant surgeon, Lutheran Transplant Center. "Reaching our 100th kidney transplant is an exciting time for all of us at Lutheran, so we pause to acknowledge the progress we've made. None of this is possible without the support of regional physicians and patients who understand the benefit of providing this important care close to home."

In the past four years, 313 end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients were evaluated at the Lutheran Transplant Center. At present, 73 patients are on the kidney transplant waiting list and 33 more patients are in the process of being assessed by Lutheran's multidisciplinary team of evaluators. Approximately 285 transplanted patients are followed in the post-transplant clinic, many of whom received kidney transplants elsewhere prior to the start of our program but eventually transferred their postoperative care to us.

Pre-transplant evaluations, transplant care and post-transplant follow-ups with the recipients are conducted by a dedicated team of professionals led by Dr. Kizilisik and transplant nephrologist John Ducker, MD. Dr. Ducker is the medical director of Lutheran's kidney transplant program and he manages the care of post-operative patients. The program also has dedicated nursing and clinic staff who are specifically trained in kidney transplant patient care.

Identifying Kidney Transplant Candidates
Kidney transplantation is considered for all medically suitable patients with ESRD. A successful transplant saves a life and enhances the person's quality of life. Candidates for kidney transplantation undergo an extensive evaluation to identify many important factors, including medical and psychosocial concerns that may have an adverse effect on the outcome.

The evaluation is performed in an outpatient setting. The goal is to identify and treat all co-existing medical and surgical problems that may increase complications during or post transplantation. Social issues are also evaluated to determine conditions that may jeopardize the outcome.

Identifying Living Kidney Donor Candidates
The evaluation of a living donor begins with a psychosocial evaluation to confirm that the motive to donate a kidney is indeed altruistic. Evaluations proceed in stages so unnecessary tests are not performed on incompatible donors. When a donor is identified, a number of tests are administered, including urine collection to verify kidney function, routine blood tests, chest x-ray, electrocardiogram and special imaging studies. If all results are normal and the anatomy is favorable, then surgery is scheduled.

Mark Dabagia, MD, urologist and nephrectomy surgeon for living donors with Lutheran's kidney transplant program, completes the last step of living donors' evaluations to discuss all aspects of the surgery. Once confirmed, Dr. Dabagia uses the da Vinci surgical system to extract the donor kidney. The da Vinci robot allows Dr. Dabagia to create smaller incisions, which leads to less scarring. Smaller incisions also improve recovery time, meaning healthy patients can return to everyday activities sooner. 

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