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Vanderbilt Transplant Center to be focus of national TV series

Aug. 17, 2021, 2:23 PM


by Matt Batcheldor

A new documentary television series premiering this fall follows the life-saving stories of organ transplant patients at the Vanderbilt Transplant Center.

Robin Roberts, anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” announced the series, “Last Chance Transplant,” on Aug. 16. Roberts is a double stem-cell transplant patient passionate about the topic, and her production company, Rock’n Robin Productions, is a partner in the series along with 44 Blue Productions.

The series consists of three, one-hour episodes and will premiere Sept. 22 on discovery+, the streaming platform of Discovery Inc., which is also home to a host of TV networks including Animal Planet, HGTV, and the Discovery Channel. Each episode of Last Chance Transplant features two patients.

“We are so proud to be part of this project to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation and the life-saving opportunity provided by each transplant,” said Seth Karp, MD, chair of the Section of Surgical Sciences, H. William Scott Jr. Professor and director of the Vanderbilt Transplant Center.

The project provides the opportunity to educate a national audience about how being an organ donor can impact the lives of others. Each episode will include a message from Roberts encouraging viewers to register to become organ donors.

“My journey with MDS and my bone marrow transplant was one of the toughest fights of my life,” Roberts said. “Thanks to my sister and bone marrow donor Sally-Ann as well as my doctors, nurses, family and friends, I was able to focus on the fight and not the fright. I am honored to share the stories of six courageous individuals as they await a life-saving transplant and the team of people who lift them up along the way. Their determination is truly inspiring.”

For months, film crews followed six very sick patients who were each waiting for a life-saving organ donor for either a liver, kidney, heart or lungs; or in some cases, multiple organs. One of the featured patients received the world’s first heart and double lung transplant during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another transplant featured what is possibly the world’s first heart and liver transplant in an adult Down syndrome patient. These patients placed their hopes for survival in the hands of Vanderbilt’s transplant surgeons, doctors, nurses, transplant coordinators and many others, making life-saving decisions that came down to the hour and minute.

“We owe our gratitude to our patients and their families for sharing their personal stories for this series. They understood that by doing so they could help others better understand the true impact of organ donation and transplantation,” said John Howser, Chief Communications Officer.

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