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Vanderbilt Transplant Center achieves new record for total transplants performed in 2020

Jan. 28, 2021, 8:23 AM


by Matt Batcheldor

The Vanderbilt Transplant Center (VTC) established a new record in 2020 for total solid organ transplants, performing 611 life-saving procedures among its adult and pediatric organ transplant programs.

The 2020 total surpasses VTC’s previous record of 566 transplants in 2019. As a result, Vanderbilt University Medical Center now ranks as the nation’s sixth largest transplant program by volume. This is among 253 U.S. hospitals offering some type of solid organ transplant.

In the Adult Transplant program, teams performed 263 kidney transplants, two simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplants, 133 liver transplants, 124 heart transplants, 41 single and double lung transplants and one simultaneous heart-lung transplant, which was VUMC’s first such procedure since 2006.

Pediatric transplant teams with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt performed 13 kidney transplants, 11 liver transplants (including four living donor procedures) and 23 heart transplants.

“This would be a remarkable achievement in any year, but in this year it is even more heartwarming,” said Seth Karp, MD, H. William Scott Jr. Professor, director of the Vanderbilt Transplant Center and chair of the Section of Surgical Sciences. “The flexibility of the individuals in the Transplant Center to rework processes in the setting of COVID-19, combined with the commitment of VUMC to provide life-saving transplants while simultaneously serving other patients, is truly extraordinary.”

Last year, when the VTC also celebrated its 30th anniversary, was a milestone year in many ways. Nearly a quarter of the transplants last year were hearts, cementing Vanderbilt’s status as the No. 1 heart transplantation program by volume in the world.

VUMC also celebrated 2020 as the year it exceeded 10,000 total transplants of all organs since its first kidney transplant in 1962. Over the years, Vanderbilt has had a succession of firsts. VUMC performed its first heart transplant in 1985, the Southeast’s first combined heart/lung transplant in 1987, first liver transplant in 1991, and first single lung transplant in 1990. Vanderbilt completed its first successful double lung transplant in 1994, first heart-lung-liver triple transplant in 2000, Tennessee’s first paired kidney exchange in 2004 and first combined heart-kidney in 2008.

“The Transplant Center’s sustained, year-over-year progress would not be possible without the efforts of everyone involved. Last year was notable for its challenges, but also for successes like this, where thousands of members of our team came together with dedication and commitment to save these patients’ lives. I am very grateful for their contributions,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer for VUMC.

Recent accomplishments include the first pediatric heart-kidney transplant in 2016 and first heart-liver in 2017.

Vanderbilt now serves 9,000 transplant patients, and it takes a highly specialized, multidisciplinary team of about 150 people to work on a single transplant. The transplant teams include physicians in each organ specialty, surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists, intensivists, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, social workers, financial coordinators, nutritionists, organ procurement coordinators, preservationists and operating room staff, among others.

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