Jewish Hospital Celebrates 55 Years of Saving Lives Through Organ Transplantation

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LOUISVILLE On April 16, 2019, Jewish Hospital Transplant Care, in partnership with UofL, celebrated “Donate Life Month” with more than 5,200 lives saved through organ transplantation. More than 100 of those transplant recipients gathered to mark the program’s 55th anniversary, along with the transplant team and donor families.

“We are honored at Jewish Hospital with the expertise to deliver so many firsts and milestones in our transplant programs,” said Ronald Waldridge II, MD, President of Jewish Hospital. “It is a true testament to the skill and innovation of our physicians, our partnership with the University of Louisville, the medical teams, and all support staff. I commend the compassion and bravery of our donors and their families. We look forward to many more celebrations in the years to come.”

“Hope is not possible without the sacrifice of our donor families,” said Christopher Jones, MD, Jewish Hospital Transplantation Program Director, and Transplant Surgery Division Chief at University of Louisville Physicians – Transplantation Surgery and the UofL School of Medicine. “Being the transplant center of choice is not possible without trust. To the transplant team, past and present, I applaud your expertise and commitment to compassionate care.”

The first transplant at Jewish Hospital—a kidney transplant—was performed on September 3rd in 1964. Since then, Jewish Hospital’s transplant program has performed many firsts:

Kentucky’s first adult heart transplant
Kentucky’s first pancreas transplant
Kentucky’s first adult liver transplant
Kentucky’s first double-lung transplant
Kentucky’s first dual heart/lung transplant

Today, Jewish Hospital is among a very small percentage of hospitals across the country approved to perform all five solid organ transplants: heart, lung, liver, kidney, and pancreas.

Jewish Hospital is also home to the world’s most successful hand transplant, celebrating its 20th anniversary last month. The Louisville Vascular Composite Allograft program began here in 1999. The program set out to prove that the transfer of a hand and/or arm could be a treatment alternative for patients who had lost a limb, in the same way a kidney or heart can be replaced in patients who need a new organ.

The nucleus of the solid organ program is the Trager Transplant Center,18,000 square feet with 20 state of the art exam and consultation rooms. It opened in 2016, with a $3.3 million gift from the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation and the Trager family. The family has provided $2.2 million in philanthropic support as well.

None of this would be possible without the donors themselves, and the support of organ procurement agencies including Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA). KODA, and Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks’ Trust For Life program, work to raise awareness about the need for organ donation. An estimated 7,000 lives are lost each year while waiting on an organ transplant.

Kentuckians can join the Kentucky Donor Registry online at www.donatelifeky.org. People who live outside of the state of Kentucky can visit www.donatelife.net for state specific donor registry information.