Earlier this year, the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh entered a partnership to reinvigorate pediatric liver transplantation in Charlottesville. This relationship is the first of it is kind and will utilize the expertise of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh to help children transplanted at the University of Virginia. Under the leadership of Thomas Starzl, MD, the first physician to perform a pediatric liver transplant, the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh has been a pioneer in pediatric transplantation. To date, CHP has performed over 1200 pediatric liver transplants.
UVA has performed pediatric liver transplant since 1989, and this partnership demonstrates a renewed interest in expanding this program. Currently, the majority of Virginian pediatric patients in need of liver transplant will have their procedure in facilities outside the state. The goal of this partnership is to not only expanded pediatric transplantation in the state of Virginia, but to hasten transplantation for children in need of liver transplantation outside of the region.
The national organization responsible for transplantation, United Network for Organ Sharing, encourages individuals to be listed at different transplant centers. With this in mind, not only will patients who live in Virginia be evaluated for transplant at UVA, but patients already listed in Pittsburgh will be offered to dual-list in our transplant region where the waiting list can be much shorter. A host of physicians from CHP, including transplant surgeons, anesthesiologists and hepatologists, have been credentialed by UVA as well as critical and acute care nurses. The pediatric transplant surgeons from CHP will travel to the site of procurement and to Charlottesville to aid our surgeons in the transplantation. A team from the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh will stay after the transplant to help with the postoperative management of the patient. Additionally, telemedicine services allow us to discuss any care questions face-to-face with physicians in Pittsburgh including intensivists, infectious disease specialists, geneticists and hepatologists. There has already been an incredible amount of information transferred from Pittsburgh through teaching sessions, formalized lectures, and, most importantly, face-to-face discussion with their team.
On May 17th, the first patient was transplanted through this collaborative effort. We maximized our team based approach by involving the UVA pediatric kidney transplant team, as she is a 13-year-old girl who received both a liver and kidney transplant because of polycystic kidney disease and hepatic fibrosis. Prior to transplant she was on peritoneal dialysis and developed portal hypertension, and after much hard work and coordination, she is doing great one month after her transplant… and this is what makes this new collaborative effort so exciting.
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