November 16, 2007

Kidney transplant program hits milestone

Featured Image

David Shaffer, M.D., talks with patient James Beatty and his daughter, Samantha Johnson. Beatty was Vanderbilt’s 3,500th kidney transplant patient. (photo by Neil Brake)

Kidney transplant program hits milestone

The Vanderbilt Kidney Transplant Program hit another milestone recently by transplanting its 3,500th patient.

“We have a very large program here,” said David Shaffer, M.D., director of the Division of Kidney and Pancreas Transplant at Vanderbilt.

“We are one of the longest-running, continuously operating kidney transplant programs in the country. For us, 3,500 transplants is a lot. We will probably end up doing nearly 130 transplants at Vanderbilt this year and another 20 at the Nashville VA.”

Vanderbilt is in the top 10th percentile of active renal transplant centers by total volume and in the top fifth percentile by volume for active living donor transplant centers.

James Beatty of Livingston, Tenn., was unaware that his transplant made the history books.

Beatty, who has battled high blood pressure for more than a decade, has waited on a kidney for nearly two years.

“I was just one day away from getting ready for dialysis,” said Beatty. “I was a bit shocked at first when I got the phone call. But then I got to thinking that I'd better get ready and get on down there.

“I didn't know I was 3,500th until a few weeks after the transplant. I was kind of excited. That was a good feeling.”

Beatty, 55, said that he can already tell a difference in his health and is looking forward to returning to work as a construction truck driver.

When Shaffer joined Vanderbilt in 2001, the program performed about 60 transplants a year. Now it projects approximately 130 for 2007 and anticipates continued growth.