Posts Tagged ‘Emory Transplant Center’

The True Meaning of Thanksgiving

In the true spirit of giving, watch this heartwarming story of how an Emory Transplant Center patient, Bret Reiff, received a kidney from a 21 year-old stranger, Carley Teat.

“She is truly an angel in my heart. That’s all I got to say,” says Reiff.

As we reflect on this Thanksgiving holiday and of all that we are thankful for, let’s remember those who have given the generous donation of life through organ transplantation.

To learn more about living donor kidney transplantation, and the Emory Transplant Center’s Kidney Transplant program, visit

Emory Living Donor Kidney Program Meets Transplant Goal

Living Kidney Donor Transp;lantThe Emory Transplant Center’s Living Donor Kidney Program set a lofty goal to perform 100 adult and pediatric transplants in fiscal year 2015 (9/1/14–‐8/31/15). And we are proud to announce that they achieved their goal.

By July 31st of this year, the Living Donor Kidney Program had just about met expectations, with 85 successful living donor kidney transplants performed at Emory University Hospital, and 12 at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston Hospital. The 100th transplant was less than a week later on August 6, 2015. By the end of August, the Program performed a total of 112 transplants. This total included 23 paired donor transplants that had donors matched by the National Kidney Registry in FY15.

Motivated by the challenge to transplant 100 patients in FY15, the team aspired even higher this fiscal year and is now projecting 100 adult and 15 pediatric transplants in FY16. Emory has a vibrant living donor program, thanks to the possibilities offered by widening the potential donor pool and making paired donor matches through the National Kidney Registry (NKR).

“I have to note that we had six ‘non‐designated donors’ from Emory who started ‘chains’ or ‘swaps’ in the NKR,” reports Sharon Mathews, lead transplant coordinator, Living Donor Kidney Program. “Through the selfless donation of these altruistic donors, 25 patients received kidney transplants around the U.S.”

According to Mathews, “Living donation can provide end-stage renal disease [ESRD] patients with a better chance of finding a compatible match and improve their outcomes and quality of life than a deceased donor match. Living donation, especially when facilitated by the NKR, a national paired donor exchange program, can speed the process to find compatible donors for patients and reduce wait times.”

Emory has been a member of the National Kidney Registry’s exchange since 2011 and is the second largest paired donor program in the country, matching a total of 29 paired donor transplants over the last 12 months. The 112 living donor transplants in FY15 is a 35% increase over last year, which had 83 adult and pediatric transplants in FY14.

“I really appreciate how hard the kidney team worked to make this happen,” remarked Dr. Nicole Turgeon, surgical director of the living donor program. “Our patients truly benefit from your teamwork.”

Great job, Living Donor Kidney Program team!

Emory Transplant Center Ranks 7th Nationally

The Emory Transplant Center ranks 7th among transplant programs across the nation based on adult transplant volumes. In calendar year 2014, we performed 441 adult transplants that placed us 7th overall, tied with Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Our top 10 ranking puts us among good company.






And with the recent release of the latest Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) data, it revealed that all Emory solid organ programs, when risk-adjusted, are similar to if not statistically different from the national data and meet expectations for performance set by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) Membership Professional Standards Committee (MPSC).

The new SRTR center-specific data included the following one-year graft and patient survival rates for our patients:

Patient survival rate: 90.4% (actual) vs. 90.75% (expected)
Graft survival rate: 80.95% (actual) vs. 84.3% (expected)

Patient survival: 98.1% (actual) vs. 97.4% (expected)
Graft survival: 95% (actual) vs. 94.4% (expected)

Patient survival: 100% (actual) vs. 97.9% (expected)
Graft survival: 100% (actual) vs. 95.8% (expected)

Patient survival: 93.8% (actual) vs. 91.6% (expected)
Graft survival: 91.7% (actual) vs. 89.2% (expected)

Patient survival: 84.7% (actual) vs. 87.1% (expected)
Graft survival: 84.5% (actual) vs. 90% (expected)

*adults; cohort 1/1/12 – 6/30/14 (deaths and re-transplants were counted as graft failures)

Also of note, the Emory Kidney Transplant program’s three-year graft survival remains statistically greater than expected (p < 0.05) with outcomes of 89.48% (actual) vs. 86.29% (expected).

Our experience coupled with continued excellent outcomes in all solid organ programs make the Emory Transplant Center a leading transplant destination in the Southeast and the nation, serving patients in Georgia and bordering states. We are proud to be your transplant center.

Site Visits Show Emory Transplant Center’s Patients are in Excellent Hands

GoldSeal_4colorSuccess in a transplant center is measured by many standards — high patient and graft survival rates, satisfied patients and quality care, to name a few — but Emory really does stand out
when national regulatory agencies come for required site visits. Three agencies, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the Joint Commission (TJC) and the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), visited the Emory Transplant Center (ETC) this year. Their hard work was evident in the positive comments we received from the surveyors.

For the first time in ETC’s history, the Joint Commission surveyed hospital-based outpatient clinics during their site visit in July – this included both the ETC’s Outpatient Transplant Clinics at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital and the Emory Clinic.

“The surveyor was happy with the nurses’ notes on a sample procedure stating, ‘This is the only chart I have ever read that has all the information I was looking for when a patient is being discharged from the clinic after a procedure.’ She was impressed.”, reports Joji Taganajan, nurse manager.

Our CMS re-certification survey was conducted the last week of April. The reviewers surveyed Emory’s heart, kidney, liver, lung, and pancreas programs, examining medical records for documentation of the multiple CMS conditions of participation, reviewing ETC policies, practices, and quality assessment and performance improvement (QAPI) programs. All five transplant programs were re-certified.

Additional good news came to the programs on July 13 in the form of letters from the UNOS Membership and Professional Standards Committee (MPSC). The MPSC reported results of its routine on-site review of the programs, conducted by the UNOS staff the week of January 26. The purpose of the survey, which is conducted every three years, is to review and analyze transplant program compliance with UNOS/OPTN (Organ Procurement and Transplant Network) policies. All ETC programs passed with scores between 92 and 100.

A heartfelt thank you goes out to all our transplant staff, faculty and leadership who provide our patients and families excellent clinical care on a daily basis, while achieving impressive quality outcomes and meeting the multiple federal regulatory requirements for transplant centers.

Emory Transplant Center Celebrates National Minority Donor Awareness Week

multi-ethnicAugust is a good time to honor our minority donors who make the benefits of transplantation possible. National Minority Donor Awareness Week, celebrated annually on August 1-7, is a nationwide observance to honor the generosity of multicultural donors and their families, while also underscoring the critical need for people from diverse communities to become organ donors.

The Emory Transplant Center is committed to bringing attention to the critical need for organ donors. The need for minority donors is especially profound.

2014 Statistics:

  • 58% of individuals on the national organ transplant waiting list were comprised of minorities (this number includes Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, American Indians, Pacific Islanders and people of multiracial decent)
  • 32%
of all deceased donors were minorities
  • 42%
of all those receiving transplants were minorities
    (Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services)

We would like to honor minorities who have been donors, and encourage others to register as donors. A greater diversity of donors may potentially increase access to transplantation for everyone. For more information, please visit and “Why Minority Donors Are Needed.”

Improving Dialysis Patients’ Lives Through Kidney Transplantation

Emory Transplant Center continues to be a leader in research by studying ways we can better bring the benefits of kidney transplantation to Georgia residents. Several Emory studies have documented that receiving a kidney transplant before dialysis, or soon after beginning treatment, can improve patient outcomes and quality of life.

A recent study conducted by the Emory Transplant Center, along with two other healthcare systems in Georgia and the Southeastern Kidney Transplant Coalition, looked at why patient referral rates from dialysis centers to transplant facilities were so low. They found that three-quarters of Georgia patients on dialysis were not even being evaluated for a possible kidney transplant within their first year of dialysis.

“The study found that fewer than 28% of Georgia dialysis patients were referred to one of the state’s three adult kidney transplant centers within a year of starting dialysis,” reports Dr. Stephen Pastan, Medical Director, Emory Kidney Transplant Program, reports.

Georgia has the lowest kidney transplant rate in the country. U.S. regulations require that all dialysis centers in Georgia inform patients of kidney transplantation as a treatment option within 60 days of starting dialysis. Yet the study identified 15 Georgia dialysis facilities that referred zero patients within one year of dialysis start. The dialysis facilities with the lowest transplant referral rates were more likely to be non-profit, have more patients, and a higher patient-to-social worker ratio. Kidney transplantation is a typically less expensive intervention than ongoing dialysis and one that also promises greater longevity and a better quality of life.

One of the first key steps for many patients to receive kidney transplantation is to hear about its life-changing benefits at a dialysis center. This study illustrates the need for further measures to improve overall referral of patients to kidney transplantation.

Learn more about the Emory Kidney Transplant Program or call us at 1-855-EMORYTX (366-7989)

Flu Vaccination Proves to Reduce Rejection in Transplant Recipients

transplant_7-30-200x300Although we are currently in the throws of summer heat, schools will be starting back in the next few weeks and soon the Fall season will be upon us. With that begins flu season. The Emory Transplant Center has always encouraged our patients to get their flu shot early on in the season, and now a research study has proven it to be most effective in reducing rejection. A recent Emory study presented at the Emory Transplant Center shows that a flu shot in the first year post-transplant reduces rates of hospitalization for recipients of all organ types. The study also proved that vaccination reduces acute rejection rates among transplant recipients.

“We designed our study to compare the clinical outcomes between solid organ transplant recipients [lung, heart, kidney, and liver] at Emory University Hospital who receive flu vaccination with those who didn’t,” says Dr. G. Marshall Lyon III, Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of Transplant Infectious Diseases.

The investigators reviewed the charts of 586 recipients who received transplants from January 1, 2011 to September 1, 2012. They studied a cohort of patients who received flu vaccines during the first full flu season after their transplants and compared it to a cohort of non-vaccinated patients. The researchers collected the outcomes from each recipient for one year beginning with the start of the first full flu season – September 1st – after their transplants.

The study showed the recipients had an overall vaccination rate of 59.3%. The rate of hospitalization per patient year was lower in the vaccinated group, with 0.34 admissions per patient year for the vaccinated group and 0.51 admissions per patient year in the non-vaccinated group. When rejection episodes that were diagnosed on the date of vaccination were removed from the vaccinated group and attributed to the non-vaccinated group, there was a significant reduction in the rate per patient year, with a rejection rate of 0.13 for vaccinated patients and 0.22 non-vaccinated patients.

Learn more about the Emory Transplant Center.

Finding a Better Antifungal Agent for Lung Transplant Patients

Transplant_7-16Because human airways are open to airborne fungal spores and pathogens, lung transplant patients are especially susceptible to infections, a major cause of post-transplant disease and even death. A reliable means of preventing fungal infection in lung transplant patients is the drug posaconazole. Even though it serves well for preventing infection, the oral suspension has poor bioavailability, or absorption into the bloodstream, and patients need to have low gastric pH and high dietary fat intake for adequate systemic exposure.

In November 2013, the FDA approved a new formulation, a posaconazole extended-release tablet, which doctors at Emory Transplant Center began prescribing to patients because of its predictable absorption and improved systemic exposure.

“The purpose of the research study was to compare the oral suspension with the extended-release tablets and determine the likelihood of achieving therapeutic posaconazole levels, which provides the optimal benefit for patients,” says Michael Hurtik, clinical pharmacist for the heart and lung transplant programs, who was the first author on the study. He and the team’s pulmonologists, including Emory Lung Transplant Program medical director, Dr. David Neujahr, looked at data from a cohort of Emory Transplant Center patients who received single or bilateral lung transplantation between January 2013 and October 2014, and were treated for four months post-transplant with nebulized amphotericin and posaconazole oral suspension or the extended-release tablets.

The results showed that the use of the new posaconazole extended-release tablets resulted in therapeutic blood levels for fungal prophylaxis more often (87% of patients) than the oral suspension formulation (39%). The lung transplant patients studied also tolerated the tablets well and no one needed a dose reduction or discontinuation of the medication. This study was successful in finding a better antifungal agent for our lung transplant patients that also provides the most optimal health benefit.

Learn more about the Emory Transplant Center.

Emory Transplant Center Giving Back

Swing Easy Transplant Charity Check

(From left to right) Kirk Franz, seen here with two of his daughters, Dr. Tom Pearson, Executive Director, Emory Transplant Center and Chris Dimotta, Emory Transplant Center Administrator.

Every year, National Donate Life Month at Emory is a festive time to honor the donors and donor families who make renewed lives through transplantation possible. This past April was no exception as Emory Transplant Center physicians and staff participated in community events to raise money for two worthy causes – the Georgia Transplant Foundation and Donate Life of Georgia. Both organizations play a major role in helping to support transplant recipients in Georgia.

The Swing Easy Hit Hard golf tournament, held on April 16th at Windermere Country Club, has become an annual Emory tradition. The event is organized and hosted by Emory liver transplant recipient Kirk Franz. Thankful for his liver transplant, Kirk wanted to give back in some way and create awareness about the importance of organ donation. The annual event raises funds for the Georgia Transplant Foundation and Emory Transplant Center. This year’s event raised a total of $14,000 — a stunning increase over the five years the event has been organized by the Franz family.

Emory Transplant Center staff also participated in the second annual Donate Life of Georgia Run 4 Your Life 5K walk/run on April 18th. The event attracted more than 132 runners and transplant enthusiasts.

Emory Transplant 5K

Emory Transplant Center 5K Team

“It was a beautiful and festive day on the Silver Comet Trail,” says Dawn Fletcher, Emory Transplant Center employee and one of the race’s organizers. “We received approximately $6,100 in donations for Donate Life Georgia’s educational programs.” She encouraged the Emory team to dress in blue and green — official Donate Life colors — to get into the spirit.

Both events not only not only raised money for these two worthy causes but also promoted team unity among the Emory Transplant Center family – team they are proud to be a part of.

Emory Transplant Center Receives Grant to Help Increase Access to Living Donor Kidney Transplants

Living Kidney Donor Transp;lantThe Carlos and Marguerite Mason Trust has awarded the Emory Transplant Center a $500,000 grant over two years that will go a long way toward saving lives and increasing access to the benefits of living donor kidney transplants among Georgians. The grant will help Emory Transplant Center researchers design, implement and evaluate new recruitment and retention tools in partnership with Tonic Health, a leading medical data collection system. The initiative’s goals are to help living donor candidates navigate the donation process and to be able to easily track them through the entire transplant process.

“Due to enhanced awareness in the community, an increase in accessibility and various educational initiatives there are more end-stage renal disease [ESRD] patients in Georgia coming forward as potential candidates for transplantation,” says Dr. Thomas Pearson, executive director of the ETC. “Both the number of available deceased donor organs and living donor kidneys for ESRD patients have plateaued in the last three or four years, making the need to explore new techniques to increase the donor pool more urgent than ever.”

Because of this, the Emory Transplant Center has started a pilot project to capture patient questionnaires and intake notes electronically to help speed the evaluation process. The new system will flag patients who could be appropriate candidates for kidney donation based on criteria developed by our researchers and will help reduce the time nurse coordinators need to review records. It will be much more patient friendly and efficient than current phone call screening processes. The new technology will be one of the most innovative electronic screening systems for facilitating living donor kidney transplantation available anywhere in the country.

With the help of the Mason Trust grant, the Emory Transplant Center hopes to increase the number of kidney transplant evaluations by at least 30%, and decrease the time from referral to donation by 20%.

According to Dr. Pearson, “We are truly grateful for the dedication of the Carlos and Marguerite Mason Trust to help ESRD patients and their families learn about the benefits of transplantation, assist them in the transplant process, help them find living donor matches, and enable our faculty and staff to monitor their progress.”