organ transplant

Double-Lung Transplant Gives Man New Outlook on Life

Double Lung Transplant Joseph McCanne and FamilyJoseph McCanne was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at just three years old. That diagnosis began a long journey that would ultimately include two double-lung transplants at Emory Transplant Center – with each transplant giving him a new opportunity to enjoy life at its fullest.

Declining Health, Steps Toward Transplant

At first, Joseph was hesitant to consider a double-lung transplant, despite his declining health. His cystic fibrosis was creating several serious health issues, including constant bouts of pneumonia that were sending him regularly to the hospital and lung function that eventually dropped to 13 percent.

It wasn’t until 2009 when he began to envision a brighter, healthier future – and that was all thanks to one person in particular: Kayse, the woman who would become his wife.

“I wanted to stick around a little longer,” he admits.

After years of indecision, he called the Emory Transplant Center and told them he was ready. Joseph was placed high on the transplant list and waited only two weeks. On October 7, 2009, he arrived at Emory for a bilateral transplant.

After a 12-hour surgery, a three-week hospital stay, and one-month recovery at home, he was playing racquetball.

“It was life-changing,” he says. “Climbing Stone Mountain, playing racquetball and tennis, going for a job in the neighborhood – most people take those things for granted, but they were amazing for me. It was a beautiful, wonderful gift.”

A Third Chance at Life

Joseph enjoyed seven years of good health – until June 2016 when he began to feel short of breath during regular activities. He returned to Emory, where he was diagnosed with a fungal infection. The infection was causing the transplanted lungs to suddenly go into rejection.

On March 13, 2017, he underwent a second double-lung transplant, once again performed at Emory Transplant Center.

“Emory has always been there, and they’ve been great,” says Joseph. “The doctors and nurses feel like family. They’ve been very supportive and instrumental to my health since I was 11.”

Now, Joseph is back to the life he enjoys: One that includes hiking, running, working and playing with his children.

“I’m doing things I’ve never thought possible – because of Emory, because of the transplant, and because of the care they provide,” he finishes.

The Power of Organ Donation

Spring is a great time to recognize those who have saved lives through organ donation, with observances and local events, such as National Donate Life Month in April, which encourages Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors, and the 2019 Atlanta Kidney Walk in May.

“I know firsthand how lifesaving organ donation can be,” says Joseph. “Having new life after transplantation allows you to do things you could never do. It’s an amazing feeling. It’s a brand new start.”

You can also register to become an organ donor by visiting Donate Life Georgia.

About Emory Transplant Center

Emory Transplant Center has performed nearly 500 lung transplant surgeries through the Emory Lung Transplant Program. Emory is a leader in clinical excellence and in pioneering new transplant therapies. We offer cutting-edge technology and superior outcomes in kidney transplant, liver transplant, lung transplant and pancreas transplant.

Our patients come from all over the nation for our high level of expertise and proven patient outcomes. We are proud to be ranked among the top 12 transplant programs in the nation and have performed more than 9,400 transplants to date.

To learn more about the Emory Transplant Center, visit emoryhealthcare.org/transplant or call 855-366-7989.

Becoming an Organ Donor: Common Questions About Organ Donation

National Donate Life Month 2019 logoCurrently, more than 110,000 men, women and children are waiting for a new organ. And while organ donation is overwhelmingly supported – 95 percent of adults agree organ donations save lives – only 58 percent of adults are registered organ donors.

This hesitancy is caused by many different reasons – from not realizing the importance of registering to misconceptions about the organ donation process. Today, in honor of National Donate Life Month, we’re answering some of the most common questions about how and why it’s important to donate an organ. Discover the difference you can make in someone’s life.

Do Registered Organ Donors Receive Different Care?

Though it’s a common misconception that organ donors receive a lower level of care, the answer is absolutely not. Doctors, surgeons, nurses and all health care providers are trained professionals committed to improving the health of individuals and saving lives. This commitment is true regardless of age, race, ethnicity, background and status as an organ donor.

Whether or not you or your loved ones will donate organs is a conversation that will take place only after all life-saving options have failed. Care teams respect patient families and offer the necessary resources and time needed to make this important decision.

Is it Expensive to Donate Organs?

There is no cost to the donor family if a loved one’s organs are donated. Locally, LifeLink of GA assumes all expenses related to organ and tissue recovery.

How Many Lives Can an Organ Donor Save?

One organ donor can save as many as eight lives. Heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys and intestines are life-saving donations that can improve the health and wellness of someone else and give them a second chance at life.

Which Organs Can Be Donated?

With advances in medicine and technology, the list of what can be donated continues to grow. It includes:

  • Blood and platelets
  • Blood stem cells, cord blood and bone marrow
  • Corneas (the clear part of the eye over the iris and pupil)
  • Organs – Kidneys, liver, lung, heart, pancreas and intestines
  • Tissues – Middle ear, skin, heart valves, bones, veins, cartilage, tendons and ligaments

And most recently, hands and faces have been approved for transplant.

What is Living Donation?

Living donation allows a living donor to donate certain organs (or parts of certain organs) to someone in need. Living donation includes:

  • A portion of the liver, pancreas or intestine
  • One kidney
  • One lung

Living donation is a safe way to save a life. Living donors should be in good overall physical and mental health and older than 18 years of age. Some medical conditions could prevent an individual from being a living donor. Transplant programs complete a full patient evaluation to protect both living donor and recipient health and safety. Donors are able go on to live healthy, full lives. Learn more about Emory’s Living Donor Kidney Program.

Can I Choose Where My Loved One’s Organs Go?

You’re not able to choose who receives an organ donation, except in living donation. Organ donors must believe that all life is sacred and recognize their organ may go to someone from a different background, culture or ethnicity.

How Are Organs Matched?

Organs are matched to individuals on the waiting list by several different factors. This includes blood and tissue type, medical need, time spent on the waiting list and geographical location.

How Do I Sign Up to Become an Organ Donor?

If you’re ready to save a life, register to become a donor by visiting Donate Life Georgia. You can also learn more about Emory Transplant Center and organ donation by visiting emoryhealthcare.org/transplant or calling 855-366-7989.

About Emory Transplant Center

Emory Transplant Center is a leader in clinical excellence and in pioneering new transplant therapies. We offer cutting-edge technology and superior outcomes in heart transplant surgery, kidney transplant surgery, liver transplant surgery, lung transplant surgery and pancreas transplant surgery.

Our patients come from all over the nation for our high level of expertise and proven patient outcomes. We are proud to be ranked among the top 12 transplant programs in the nation and have performed more than 9,000 transplants to date.

Life on Anti-Rejection Medications After Transplant

Our bodies are wired to defend themselves against foreign invaders. After a patient undergoes an organ transplant, the body responds to the new organ as if it were a foreign object. The immune system goes into overdrive trying to reject it. This is why it is vital for transplant patients to take anti-rejection medications or immunosuppressant drugs immediately following transplant surgery and for the rest of their lives.

Potential Side Effects of Anti-Rejection Medication After Transplant

While necessary to keep transplant patients alive, anti-rejection medications do come with a few potential side effects. This is especially true of the drug tacrolimus, which is one of the most common anti-rejection medications available. Because this medication suppresses the immune system, the patient has a higher risk of infections and infectious complications. The drug can also cause high blood pressure and gout, have adverse effects on kidney function, and potentially create blood cell issues.

“The side effects of anti-rejection medications may feel overwhelming at first,” states Dr. Ram Subramanian, Associate Professor of Medicine and Surgery and the Medical Director of Liver Transplantation at Emory University School of Medicine. “That’s why we closely monitor our post-transplant patients throughout their life and provide intense post-op care.”

The Importance of Proper Follow-Up Care

After a transplant, patients will need to follow up with their medical team regularly, especially during the months following the transplant.

“In the first few months, we see patients almost every week,” notes Subramanian. “In the first month after the transplant, we get labs and run blood tests up to three times a week. As time goes on, we allow more time between follow-ups, but we never really stop monitoring these patients.”

Your physician will also let you know which other drugs could interact poorly with your medication and alert you to any necessary lifestyle changes. For instance, grapefruit juice affects the body’s absorption of anti-rejection medications and should be avoided. And, because these life-saving organs require extra care, medical professionals will insist patients abstain from alcohol after a liver transplant.

Medication Education

Since patients must start taking pharmaceuticals on a daily basis, there’s an education process that occurs immediately after their transplant.

“Before discharging a patient, our team sits down with him and his family to review the medications. Everyone needs to know what the medicine looks like, the frequency at which it should be taken, as well as what time of day,” explains Subramanian. “It’s very detailed training for the patient and his family.”

It’s absolutely vital patients don’t skip any days of their medication or stop taking it, even if they appear to be in good health. Without the medication, the body can still reject the organ at any time, and the signs of rejection are very subtle.

Living a Long Life on Anti-Rejection Medications

If patients take care of themselves and are compliant with their anti-rejection medications, they can have a long life after organ transplant.

“I recently saw someone in the clinic who does an excellent job taking his medicine and caring for his body,” notes Subramanian. “His liver transplant took place 30 years ago and he’s still here thanks to his anti-rejection medication.”

To hear more from Dr. Subramanian about living life on anti-rejection medications, listen to his podcast on this topic.

For more information about organ transplant and the Emory Transplant Center, visit emoryhealthcare.org/transplant.

About Dr. Subramanian

Dr. Ram Subramanian is Associate Professor of Medicine and Surgery, and the Medical Director of Liver Transplantation. In his dual role as a transplant hepatologist and an intensivist.

Dr. Subramanian is involved in the inpatient care of patients before and after liver transplantation. His clinical and research interests are focused on critical care issues related to hepatic failure and liver transplantation.

 

Choosing a Transplant Center: Survival Outcomes Data

Organ transplantation is one of the greatest advances in modern medicine. Just the idea of replacing an organ in the body with another one via transplant is an overwhelming concept. Therefore, it is no surprise that those who are faced with a condition that may require one may feel scared and helpless. If you or a family member are facing an organ transplant in the near future, here are a few suggestions to help you choose the right transplant center for your care.

One of the biggest decisions you will make is choosing a center to have your transplant surgery. With more than 250 transplant centers in the U.S., where do you start? Many patients simply choose the facility closest to them, but there are several questions you should ask before making your final decision on a transplant center:

  • What is the transplant center’s experience with performing transplant (transplant surgery volumes), and what are their survival outcomes?
  • Is the center within the network of your health insurance?
  • If the center is not close to your home, can your family/support system stay near the transplant center without causing an undue burden?
  • Can you easily reach the transplant center for all appointments before and after the transplant?
  • Do you feel comfortable speaking with physicians and the transplant team?

The first question on the list is one of the most important factors when making the decision. Finding and understanding transplant volume and survival outcomes data can be complicated, but the good news is that there is a resource that exists to help you. And it is right at your fingertips. The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) provides a website that lists patient and graft survival outcomes for each transplant program across the nation in an easy-to-understand format. Before making your decision, be sure to visit the SRTR website and review your program’s data.

Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR)

The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) is a national database of transplant statistics. Data in the registry are collected by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) from hospitals and organ procurement organizations (OPOs) across the country. Every six months, SRTR uses the collected data to calculate transplant program volumes and survival outcomes, and then makes it available to the public on its easy-to-navigate website (srtr.org).

Emory Transplant Center Results

At the Emory Transplant Center, we’re consistently taking steps to improve transplant survival rates and, hopefully, remove some of the fear for our patients. We’ve just received results from the October 2018 release of the SRTR’s transplant program-specific report, and are pleased to highlight a couple of results from our kidney and liver transplant programs. Both programs have demonstrated consistently strong and in some cases better-than-expected patient outcomes.

Emory Kidney Transplant Program

 

Experience

  • In 2017, our kidney transplant team performed 235 adult kidney transplants, and 15 simultaneous kidney/pancreas transplants. This positions the Emory Kidney Transplant Program among the top 15 centers nationally for kidney transplant.

Living Donor Program

  • We performed 82 adult kidney transplants from living donors in 2017. Of those, 25 were transplanted through our paired donor exchange program; therefore ranking Emory’s Kidney Transplant Program as the 5th largest paired donor program nationally through the National Kidney Registry (NKR).

Survival Outcomes

  • Emory’s risk adjusted 3-year patient and graft survival rates for living donor kidney transplants are higher than our expected rates at 98.28% and 93.33%, respectively.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Published in October 2018 Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (www.SRTR.org)

 

Emory Liver Transplant Center

 

Experience

  • In 2017, our liver transplant team performed a total of 125 adult liver transplants. This positions the Emory Liver Transplant Program among the top 12 centers nationally for liver transplant volume.

Time to Transplant

  • Of our 125 patients transplanted, 40% received a liver transplant within one month of listing, and a total of 56% were transplanted within three months of listing.

Survival Outcomes

  • Emory’s risk adjusted one-year patient and graft survival rates for liver transplantation remain higher than our expected rates at 93.10% and 92.79% – with both being higher than the national average as well.
  • We are particularly proud of the fact that both of our 3-year risk adjusted patient and graft survival rates are well above our expected rates, being statistically higher than expected (p<0.05).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Published in October 2018 Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (www.SRTR.org)

 

About Emory Transplant Center

As one of the top 15 transplant facilities in the nation, Emory Transplant Center is at the forefront of clinical excellence and pioneering new transplant therapies. We offer cutting-edge technology and superior outcomes in heart, kidney, liver, lung and pancreas transplantation.

Our patients come from all over the nation seeking the highest level of expertise and a full-service organ transplantation program that only an academic medical center like Emory Healthcare can provide.

To learn more about Emory Transplant Center, visit emoryhealthcare.org/transplant or call 855-366-7989.