Vanderbilt Transplant Center sets monthly recordJun. 8, 2020, 2:43 PM
By Matt Batcheldor
The Vanderbilt Transplant Center performed 73 transplants in May, setting a Medical Center record for the most transplants in a month. Sixteen of those were heart transplants — also a monthly record — cementing VUMC’s status as the busiest heart transplant center in the country.
“In any month this would be an extraordinary achievement, but in a month when we were having to deal with the complications of COVID-19, it represents extraordinary effort among every member of the transplant center to get these transplants done and to get them done safely and to provide a lifesaving gift to 73 people,” said Seth Karp, MD, H. William Scott Jr. Professor, chair of the Section of Surgical Sciences and director of the Vanderbilt Transplant Center.
On the adult side, VUMC performed 28 kidney transplants, 18 liver transplants, 15 heart transplants and seven lung transplants.
On the pediatric side, the Medical Center performed two kidney transplants, two liver transplants and one heart transplant.
VUMC continues to perform a record number of transplants despite the headwinds of the COVID-19 pandemic. Karp said that organ donation is down slightly in the region, but the Transplant Center team has been traveling farther to obtain organs and coordinating with other centers so organ availability is steady at VUMC.
“We’re trying to procure organs locally for other centers and asking them to do the same for us,” he said. “We’re trying to cut down on the travel as best as we can.”
The Medical Center’s ability to test all patients for COVID-19 has also instilled confidence in the process of acquiring donor organs.
“We’ve been very careful about which organs we’re taking,” Karp said. “When COVID-19 first started and the ability to test was not as widespread, anybody with any suspicion of carrying the virus we would just not use as a donor. Now that we are testing everybody, we feel better that we can identify patients who don’t have the virus and we can successfully use their organs.”
The Vanderbilt Transplant Center is the South’s premier transplant center, providing more chances for patients to participate in clinical trials and studies, as well as access to other specialists. Its transplant teams have performed more than 9,800 solid organ transplants since 1962, including all the major organs — heart, kidney, lung, liver and pancreas.