Felipe Pinedo, Jr.’s surgery Dec. 13 marked the University of Arizona Transplant Program’s 100th kidney transplant this year.
Pinedo’s niece, Andrea Torres, 34, gave the greatest gift possible. She donated a kidney to her 57-year-old uncle, who suffered from end-stage renal disease due to complications of diabetes. He had been on dialysis for about three years.
Six days after the surgery, Pinedo was “raring to go,” refusing the wheelchair ride to the lobby after his release from the hospital.
This year’s 100th kidney transplant performed at The University of Arizona Medical Center is the most the hospital has ever done in one year. The transplant program performed 90 kidney transplants in 2010 and 80 in 2009. The numbers of lung, pediatric liver and intestine transplants are projected to see increases as well.
Since the program was revitalized in 2007, about 400 kidney transplants have been performed, 98 from living donors.
Rainer W.G. Gruessner, MD, chairman, UA Department of Surgery, and chief, Abdominal Transplant, and Bruce Kaplan, MD, medical director, Kidney Transplant Program, attribute some of the growth to more live donor kidneys, new transplant therapies and less invasive surgical procedures for the donor. Dr. Gruessner performed the transplant surgery on Pinedo, and Tun Jie, MD, performed the laparoscopic donor nephrectomy on Pinedo’s niece.
“We have seen a substantial increase in living donated kidneys over the past three years,” says Dr. Gruessner. “With more people on transplant lists than ever before, leading transplant teams like ours are turning more and more to live kidney donation.”
“This is good news because the life expectancy of a living donor kidney is about 20 years on average, twice as long as a kidney from a deceased donor. Deceased donor kidneys are in very short supply, and there are 90,000 people waiting for kidney transplants.”
Dr. Kaplan stated that recent advances in immunology and technologies have allowed centers to overcome blood type and immune incompatibility. In the past, this incompatibility would rule out a donor and recipient pair. The UA transplant program has particular expertise to offer therapies to increase compatibility and reduce the possibility of organ rejection.
Also, new surgical techniques including minimally invasive kidney extraction are making it easier to donate a kidney to someone one in need. Carlos Galvani, MD, chief, UA Department of Surgery Section of Minimally Invasive Surgery, currently is the only surgeon in the Southwest performing donor nephrectomies using a surgical robot.
For patients like Pinedo, a transplant provides a better quality of life than the grueling three-days-a-week dialysis treatments. They can return to work, travel and spend time doing the things they enjoy.
“I run racing horses with my brothers and before the transplant I couldn’t travel with them,” says Pinedo, a retired tire store owner. “Now I can go with them.”
“With the expertise of the transplant team, and the Tucson and Arizona citizens’ willingness to give and save a life, we expect to continue to see more living donor transplants,” says Dr. Gruessner.
About Transplantation at The University of Arizona Medical Center:
The UA Department of Surgery is among a handful of academic medical programs to offer all types of adult and pediatric transplants, including:
· Solid-organ transplants, which include kidney, liver, pancreas, intestine, heart and lung transplants.
· Cellular transplants, which use islet cells to treat, or even prevent, insulin-dependent diabetes.
· Composite tissue transplants, including hand transplants and face transplants, for patients who have suffered limb loss or extensive facial disfigurement.
· Bone marrow transplants, which treat devastating diseases like leukemia and lymphoma.