This Date in UCSF History: Organ Transplants at UCSF Rank Among Nation's Best

Friday, March 9, 2018

[Originally published in Synapse - The UCSF student newspaper, March 13, 2008]

Imagine the unthinkable: you or a loved one is diagnosed with a serious and potentially fatal condition. Doctors tell you that your treatment options are severely limited and organ transplant is your best option.

This could save your life, but organ transplant lists are long, potentially six months to a year depending on the organ needed, and there is no guarantee that it will work.

What will happen when an organ is available? What medications will be needed?

There are so many questions the entire process could be entirely overwhelming for you and your family.

You may find some comfort in the results of a recent report that said UCSF has one of the best organ-transplant facilities in the nation. The study, released January 11 by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR), showed that patients at the UCSF Medical Center receiving heart, liver and lung transplants exceeded the expected one-year survival rates, and these programs are among the top in the nation.

The SRTR report measured performance and characteristics of each transplant program at facilities all over the United States, including waiting list outcomes, post-transplant survival rates, and organ recovery and transplantation rates.

According to Dr. John P. Roberts, chief of the UCSF Medical Center Transplant Service, in the UCSF press release about the study: "The registry collects data from the nation's transplant programs and uses an algorithm they created to standardize calculations across facilities, looking at such information as how sick patients are in each program and then assigning an expected survival rate."

SRTR data is regularly used by doctors and patients in understanding surgical outcomes and recovery options. These data are also used by hospital and facility administrators in evaluating quality control of transplant programs and by regulatory bodies to protect patients. The report is highly regarded within the medical community and a strong indicator of patient success.

According to the study, UCSF exceeded the calculated expected survival rate of patients in three large groups: heart, liver, and lung transplants. Since its inception in 1989, UCSF has completed almost 500 heart transplants.

While its liver transplant program began only 1 year earlier, in 1988, almost 2,100 liver transplants have been performed at UCSF.

And since 1991, over 250 lung transplants have been completed. Patient education and high standards help UCSF stand out As the largest and most prominent transplant center in Northern California, the UCSF Medical Center Transplant Service treats patients from all over the United States with a variety of ailments.

What makes it uniquely successful? The UCSF Transplant Service is designed to not only meet patients' medical needs, but is also structured to aid patients when organ transplant is their only recourse.

This includes putting together teams of highly trained medical experts, including transplant surgeons, anesthesiologists, cardiologists, psychologists, intervention counselors, infectious disease specialists, hematologists and physical therapists.

Alongside these medical professionals are social workers, clinical pharmacists, and financial counselors working on behalf of the patient and the family to make the difficult process of organ transplant and recovery easier so the patient can achieve the best outcome possible.

While UCSF is known for its cutting edge research and development of new technologies that contribute to the high success rate of organ transplantation, it also excels in patient education and empowerment.

For example, each transplant program has an extensive website where patients and their families can find critical information about the programs at UCSF as well as organ transplants in general, surgical preparation and options, recovery time, etc.

In particular, the "patient profiles" give current or prospective patients a clearer idea of what to expect from an organ transplant and what the pros and cons are.