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Washington University, Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center reach milestone

The Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center reached a significant milestone last month when surgeons performed the 5,000th adult kidney transplant. The kidney transplant program is one of the largest in the nation and is renowned for its excellent patient outcomes.

“We are honored to have taken care of 5,000 kidney patients over more than 50 years and look forward to having a positive impact on the lives of many more,” said Jason Wellen, MD, surgical director of the kidney and pancreas transplant programs.

The 5,000th adult kidney transplant recipient recently received a transplant from his wife through living donation. The recipient was diagnosed with severe hypertension, which caused kidney failure over time. He will be followed by a team of kidney transplant caregivers, including surgeons, physicians, nephrologists and transplant nurse coordinators.

“This is yet another achievement from one of the most experienced transplant teams in the country, a team that is truly committed to providing patients with the best care possible,” said Gene Ridolfi, RN, administrative director of the Transplant Center.

The hospital’s nephrology division, an integral part of the kidney transplant program, is consistently ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. This year, it was named ninth in the country.

Kidney transplant survival rates at Barnes-Jewish, which continually exceed national averages, are a reflection of the program’s expertise. At Barnes-Jewish, the acute rejection rate following a kidney transplant is less than 5 percent, one of the lowest kidney transplant rejection rates in the world. Medical doctors, surgeons and support staff also work together to reduce post-surgical complications and overall length of hospitalization for kidney transplant recipients.

“Because of our extensive experience in kidney transplantation, we are able to offer innovative and life-saving treatment options that may not be available at other centers across the country,” said Tarek Alhamad, MD, medical director of the kidney and pancreas transplant programs.

The Washington University and Barnes-Jewish kidney transplant program is not only one of the largest in the country but also one of the oldest. The program began in 1963, with the first living donor transplant performed in 1965. Now, the team averages more than 230 kidney transplant surgeries annually, including more than half of all kidney transplants performed in Missouri.

Barnes-Jewish also is at the forefront of innovation in kidney transplants. Washington University kidney transplant specialists were pioneers in living donor transplants and have helped advance the living-donor paired kidney exchange so more people than ever can benefit from kidney transplant.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing [UNOS], nearly 120,000 people are waiting for an organ, and a new person joins the list every 10 minutes.

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