Organ transplant patients commemorate 5,000 surgeries

BY LI DAI | APRIL 23, 2015 5:00 AM

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Wednesday, on Earth Day, a few who have received organ transplants participated in a small tree-planting event to commemorate 5,000 organs transplanted at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

The event began at the Eckstein Medical Research Building, where those who had previously received organs spoke about their time at UIHC. They underwent numerous types of organ transplants and spoke about the level of care at the UIHC and how the transplants have affected their lives.

“Transplants that we do really transform patients’ lives,” said UI Professor Alan Reed, a surgeon who specializes in kidney and liver transplants. 

After patients gave speeches, the group took part in planting bald cypress trees, one for each type of transplant — heart, lung, liver, and kidney, and another tree representing veterans.

Greg Johnson, a marketing specialist at the UI Health Care, said the UI Organ Transplant Center is the largest in the state of Iowa.

“It is one of the most [comprehensive] transplant centers in the state; we have done the first kidney transplant and first heart transplant,” Johnson said. “So when we reached a milestone, like 5,000, people around the state recognize the excellent center they have here right in their home state.”

Because the Organ Transplant Center performs transplants for patients of the Iowa City VA Health Care System, one of the invited participants, Leland Davis, is a Washington, D.C., resident and Marine Corps veteran who received a kidney and pancreas transplant from the university in May 2014.

UIHC and the UI Children’s Hospital make up the state’s only comprehensive transplant center, performing transplants for adult and pediatric kidney, liver, pancreas, and heart cases, and adult lung cases. Its first transplant— a kidney — was done in 1969.

“Transplantation not only saves life,” Reed said. “But in some cases, it is less expensive than other treatments.”

The total number of performing transplants by April 22 is 5,018. The transplants by individual organ include:

3,338 kidney transplants
785 liver transplants
339 heart transplant
313 kidney/pancreas transplant
146 lung transplant
69 pancreas transplant
20 liver/kidney transplant
5 heart/lung transplant
1 intestine transplant
1 heart/kidney transplant
1 liver/pancreas transplant

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