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University of Missouri Health Care News Releases
University Hospital reaches milestone with 1,000th kidney transplant

September 9, 2010                                                                   Contact: Matt Splett
                                                                                                      Media Coordinator
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                    (573) 882-5663

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Eighteen months ago, 8-year-old Ethan Russell of Columbia, faced a daunting diagnosis. Doctors diagnosed the young boy with kidney failure. He would eventually need a kidney transplant for survival.

“When Ethan was diagnosed with kidney failure, we were ready to find a kidney for him wherever the source,” said Nancy Russell, Ethan’s mother.

It turns out the Russells would not have to look far to find a perfect match. Tests confirmed Nancy’s kidney was compatible to Ethan’s.

On Aug. 31, University Hospital surgeons Stephen Weinstein, M.D., and Venkataraman Ramachandran, M.D., along with chief residents Julie Riley, M.D., and Elizabeth Malm-Buatsi, M.D., performed the living-donor kidney transplant — surgically removing one of Nancy’s kidneys and transplanting it into Ethan.

The procedure marked the 1,000th kidney transplant in the history of University Hospital.

Venkataraman Ramachandran, M.D., (right), and
Elizabeth Malm-Buatsi, M.D., (left), during the
1,000th kidney transplant procedure at University

Russell joins hundreds of University Hospital patients who, for the past 38 years, have benefited from the gift of transplantation. As the only hospital in mid-Missouri with a transplant program, University Hospital provides local residents transplantation services without having to make a trip to St. Louis or Kansas City for care.

“The 1,000th transplant represents a significant accomplishment in University Hospital’s history,” said Mark Wakefield, M.D., associate professor of surgery and director of the renal transplant program. “Much of the credit for our program’s success goes to Dr. Gilbert Ross, who was instrumental in starting University Hospital’s kidney transplant program 38 years ago and building it into the success it is today.”

On Feb. 11, 1972, Gilbert Ross, M.D., professor emeritus of surgery at the MU School of Medicine, and Pete Standard, M.D., a chief resident at the time, performed the first kidney transplant in mid-Missouri at University Hospital. The first surgery proved successful and extended the patient’s life by six years. As technology and accessibility to transplantation improved, so have the survival rates of patients. Today the average lifespan of a transplanted kidney is 12 years, with some University Hospital patients living more than 30 years after their original transplants.

“We’ve let grandparents hold their grandchildren again and provided children the opportunity to go on and graduate high school,” said Wakefield. “With many kidney transplants, we are extending the lives and improving the quality of life of Missourians.”

Wakefield also credits the success of the program to the multidisciplinary approach taken to bring high-quality care to each transplantation patient. Transplantation surgeons, nephrologists, nurses and other health care professionals use a highly coordinated approach for every patient. The team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week providing a full spectrum of kidney care. Following transplantation, the team offers comprehensive follow-up care and lifelong support to patients for the life of their transplant.

Despite many great outcomes, the need for organ donation far outpaces the number of transplantable organs available. More than 100,000 people in the United States are currently waiting for organ transplants. At University Hospital, more than 90 patients are on a waiting list to receive a kidney transplant.

“Being an organ donor is a powerful, selfless act that could have a profound impact on saving the lives of those people who are desperately waiting for an organ transplant,” said Wakefield. “I would encourage every Missourian to consider becoming an organ donor.”

University Hospital partners with Midwest Transplant Network to provide organ and tissue donation services to the community. Together they have built donation collaborative teams with members of both institutions.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services has recognized University Hospital’s organ donor program with the Medal of Honor for four consecutive years. The award is presented to more than 400 of the nation’s largest hospitals for achieving organ donation consent rates at or above 75 percent over a 12-month period.

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