First Multi-Organ Transplant Center Opens in West Virginia
MORGANTOWN — WVU Medicine has received approval from the United Network for Organ Sharing to offer kidney transplants, making it West Virginia’s first and only fully functional multi-organ transplant center.
“In September, we received approval from UNOS to offer heart transplantation, and we are thrilled to receive approval to also offer kidney transplantation. As the state’s leading academic medical center, we are charged with providing West Virginians and all we serve with the care they need,” said Michael Shullo, WVU Medicine associate vice president of transplant services. “By becoming the state’s first multi-organ transplant center, we are able to offer life-saving care to people who previously had to leave the state to find it.”
According to UNOS and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, more than 670,000 Americans live with end-stage renal disease, and more than 100,000 people are on the kidney transplant waitlist, including 271 kidney transplant candidates from West Virginia.
Kidney failure can result from a variety of problems, including diabetes; high blood pressure; autoimmune diseases, such as lupus; genetic diseases, such as polycystic kidney disease; cancer; injury or some medications, such as chemotherapy.
“West Virginia has some of the highest rates of kidney failure and dialysis in the country,” said Dr. Lynsey Biondi, physician director of transplantation and surgical director for kidney transplant at WVU Medicine. “Being able to offer transplant means we now offer the full spectrum of care for patients with diseases of the kidney right here in Morgantown.”
Common types of treatment for kidney failure are dialysis and kidney transplantation. Dialysis, which uses a machine to filter waste out of the body, can be a bridge to transplant or can serve as a treatment for those who cannot have or do not want a transplant.
There are two kinds of kidney transplant: deceased donor transplant and living donor transplant. Patients who receive a kidney transplant live longer and have a better quality of life than those on dialysis.
“Not only is kidney transplant a life-saving procedure, it is also life changing,” Biondi said. “Patients who previously spent several hours each week undergoing dialysis treatments get that time back to spend with their families and do the things they love to do. We get to give patients their lives back and families their loved ones back. There’s no greater honor than that. We are excited to get started and will begin evaluating potential candidates immediately.”
For more information on transplantation or to refer a potential kidney or heart transplant patient, contact the WVU Medicine Transplant Alliance at 304-974-3004. To register as an organ donor, visit www.registerme.org/wvumedicine.