"It's like finding a needle in a haystack," said one of our doctors. But finding the right match for someone in need of an organ transplant is a critical, life-changing job, and we dedicate ourselves to it all day, every day.
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Comprehensive Transplant Center has been providing exceptional care for organ transplant patients for 55 years, and we're among the best and busiest centers in the nation with excellent patient outcomes. We were #7 in the country by number of transplants performed in 2021, also ranking #11 for abdominal transplant volume (kidney, liver, pancreas) and #6 for lung transplant volume.
In April, during Donate Life Month, the brightly colored pinwheels adorning our front plaza represent the nearly 11,000 organ transplants performed to date at Ohio State. With eight spokes supported by one stem, the pinwheel symbolizes the power of one person to save up to eight lives through the gift of organ donation.
Expert kidney transplants
As a major academic medical center, Ohio State has the resources, the commitment and the capability to identify matches and find new ways to make the most of every gift of organ donation.
We've completed several chains of paired kidney donation surgeries, including three with six donors and six recipients and one with eight donors and eight recipients, which is the largest single-institution chain performed in Ohio to date.
Expert heart transplants
We've performed more than 600 heart transplants since 1986, and our extensive and successful mechanical assist program, including total artificial heart, helps patients stay alive while waiting for a new heart. We are one of the nation's leaders in treating heart failure, with numerous clinical trials, including testing new devices, drugs and other therapies that can improve lives and, in some cases, even eliminate the need for a heart transplant.
Expert lung transplants
Our lung transplant program ranked in the top 10 nationally for lung transplants performed in 2021 and also ranks above the national average for lung transplantation outcomes. We're also one of the few Ohio locations providing adult extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) to patients with end-stage pulmonary disease or post-transplant graft dysfunction.
Expert liver transplants
Patients needing a liver transplant now have another option at Ohio State – receiving a portion of a liver from a living donor. The liver is the only solid organ that can regrow, and our technological advances now allow the possibility of a partial liver transplant.
"It's a challenging procedure that few transplant centers are capable of," says Dr. Kenneth Washburn, executive director of the Comprehensive Transplant Center and director of the Division of Transplantation Surgery. "We're fortunate to have a highly skilled team that gives our patients a real chance at living a quality life."
“Transplant-suitable organs are always in critically short supply. At any time, there are approximately 108,000 people in need of an organ transplant. Annually 8,000 die waiting their turn.” Click to tweet this story
A major challenge
Transplant-suitable organs are always in critically short supply. At any time, there are approximately 108,000 people in need of an organ transplant. Annually, 8,000 die waiting their turn.
Ohio State is driving transplant innovation.
Our team is working hard to advance organ perfusion, the ability to rehabilitate organs that were once considered unusable.
We're the first transplant center in Ohio to perform ex-vivo lung perfusion. In our organ assessment and repair center, donated lungs are placed in an incubator-like dome and attached to a circuit that removes excess water, ventilates and repairs the lung tissue. Ohio State has perfused kidneys for years, and began testing this method on livers in 2019.
Our physicians and scientists are also researching ways to improve immune system acceptance of new organs, surgical outcomes and the molecular biology behind organ injury and repair.
All of this is happening now. It's remarkable, and it's becoming remarkably routine. As a major academic medical center, we have a unique opportunity to collaborate across the many disciplines at Ohio State and make extraordinary things happen for our patients.
Kenneth Washburn, MD, explains how Ohio State is driving transplant innovation.