March 5, 2010

Banner year for Transplant Center

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C. Wright Pinson, M.D., MBA, discusses the past year’s performance during his recent state of the Vanderbilt Transplant Center address. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Banner year for Transplant Center

During the recent annual state of the Vanderbilt Transplant Center address, the take home message from C. Wright Pinson, M.D., MBA, was clear: the center had one of its best years ever in terms of volumes and patient outcomes.

During the calendar year 2009, a total of 638 transplants were performed — 297 bone marrow; 36 heart; 187 kidney/pancreas (21 of which were performed at the VA); 102 liver; and 16 lung.

“The Transplant Center is in a great, great place,” said Pinson, deputy vice chancellor for Health Affairs and chief executive officer of the Hospitals and Clinics.

“Our volumes are higher than they have ever been. Our patient outcomes are either at or better than the expected outcome data reported nationally.
There is a great sense of appreciation for the contributions VTC makes to the organization.”

Pinson also highlighted the performance of each transplant program. The total numbers of transplantations since the inception of individual programs are:

• Kidney (1962) — 4,000
• Pancreas (1985) — 77
• Liver (1991) — 1,039
• Heart (1985) — 621
• Lung (1990) — 270
• Heart/lung (1987) — 20
• Bone marrow (1981) — 3,000

“If you think about it, behind every number there is a patient. Behind every patient there is a family. Look at the impact that we have had and think about how we've changed the lives of all of those people.”

Pinson credits the success of VTC to the team of doctors, nurses, technicians and support staff as well as the management of the multitude of patient support services like Return-to-Work, Infectious Diseases, Pharmacy, Psychiatry, Quality of Life and Outcomes.

“We are in good shape,” Pinson reiterated. “The value I see VTC has is only improving. For example, the adult heart transplant program is back in the LifeTrac Select Transplant Network and also in the Blue Cross/Blue Shield (Blue Distinction Centers for Transplant — BDCT) Transplant Center of Excellence.”

Pinson said VTC has made significant advances in education over the years, including starting the first nurse practitioner program in transplantation with Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, a transplant nursing preceptorship, a transplant pharmacy residency program and a transplant administration/MBA program with Vanderbilt's Owen School.

Further education programs developed by the Transplant Center include a longstanding renal transplant fellowship and transplant infectious diseases fellowship as well as a recently developed heart failure/cardiac transplant fellowship.

VTC boasts more than 20 Transplant Outcomes Research scholars, with many attaining a M.P.H. or Ph.D., offers an elective course in transplantation for both medical and nursing students and has developed three funded lectureships — the George Lectureship in Thoracic Transplantation, the Billingham Lectureship in Transplant Immunology and the Norman E. Shumway Jr. Lectureship in Transplantation.
Additionally, the center holds an annual Transplant Nurse Practitioner Symposium and a Transplant Managed Care Education Forum.

In terms of research, each year the center produces dozens of original publications.

“There has been a combination of laboratory and clinical research,” said Pinson.

“With the addition of the Transplant Clinical Trials Office started by Sunil Geevarghese, M.D., and the outcomes research group, translational research has dominated in recent years.

“It feels good to be associated with a success story like this,” he said. “And from the Community Survey results, the Vanderbilt Transplant Center is a very good place to work as well. The center significantly statistically outperforms the rest of the Medical Center. We also had a number of important successes in recruiting faculty and staff recently.”

The upbeat report took on a somber tone with the announcement that a national search is under way for a new leader of the Transplant Center.

After 17 years, Pinson, who has taken on new, expanded Medical Center leadership responsibilities, will step down as director.

“The timing is right for this transition and we are hoping that the new leader in transplantation will take the many successes of the Transplant Center and take us to the next level of performance in our national prominence as a leading transplant center.

“The future of the Transplant Center is bright,” said Pinson. “We are on a healthy upswing.”