Latest News

Latest News

Ohio State Surgeons Use New Procedure to Restore Damaged Lungs

Ohio State’s Comprehensive Transplant Center is the first in Ohio and among only a handful nationwide to test a novel method that could potentially double the number of available lungs for transplantation and save more of the 35 million Americans suffering from chronic lung disease. As central Ohio’s only adult transplant center and with one of the country’s largest transplant programs, Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center is one of 17 institutions across the country certified to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of Ex-Vivo Lung Perfusion (EVLP) through participation in the NOVEL extension clinical trial. “Expanding the number of lifesaving and life-enhancing lung transplants is limited by the number of available donors and the quality of the donated organs. Having the ability to more adequately evaluate potential donor organs and to even repair or resuscitate them is a game changer for lung transplantation,” said Dr. Bryan Whitson, a cardiothoracic surgeon and director of the lung transplant program at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center. This story resulted from pitching efforts by OSU Wexner Medical Center Public Affairs and Media Relations.

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Doubly Blessed: Mt. Sterling Patient is OSU's First Lung-kidney Transplant

A lung-kidney transplant is a rare thing. There had been only 37 since 1995, and none in Ohio, according to data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. This would be a first for Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center. "The majority of people who require lung transplants are not expected to have kidney disease," said Dr. David Klassen, chief medical officer for the United Network for Organ Sharing. "I think transplant programs are cautious — combining lung and kidney ups the complexity." But a new lung wasn't going to help (Scott) Hamilton much if his kidneys were toast. He ended up on transplant lists for both organs, and two days after that first false alarm, he got a late-night call from Wexner Medical Center Lung Transplant Coordinator Tonya Yurjevic. Drs. Ashraf El-Hinnawi and Bryan Whitson appear in an accompanying photograph with the patient. This story resulted from pitching efforts by OSU Wexner Medical Center Public Affairs and Media Relations.

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Heart Transplant Gives Newark Man Chance to Be Grandpa

In the spring of 2015, doctors told Henry "Kennie" Hayes he only had 10 to 12 months to live. Hayes can't talk about that time without getting emotional. About a month and a half after receiving his new heart, he is overwhelmed with gratitude for the donor who saved his life. This only hope of staying alive, and being there to help raise his two grandsons, was to receive a heart transplant. "Someone lost a family member so that I could live and we don’t take that lightly," he said. The Newark man recently returned home after spending several weeks living at the Unverferth House on the campus of the Ohio State University Medical Center. The house is named for OSU cardiologist Donald V. Unverferth, who helped found the hospital's heart transplant program. Families who live outside of Franklin County can stay there for free while their loved ones are being treated. "The importance of that program is just unreal," Hayes said.

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Organ Donors Are Always in Demand

Neal Raisman’s plight has a happy ending. The retired Bexley college president can live life to the fullest after a kidney transplant a week ago — the result of a selfless stranger who saw his desperate plea for a donor affixed to the rear windshield of his Subaru. But for more than another 121,000 Americans who need a life-saving organ, the agonizing wait continues. Four months ago, a central Ohio woman who had twice spotted Raisman’s car took it as a sign. She turned out to be an excellent donor. While recovering at the Wexner Medical Center’s Comprehensive Transplant Center, Raisman wrote her a note. She paid him a visit, and hugs and tears followed.

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Bexley Man's Car-window Plea for Kidney Pays Off

As the hospital nurse asked her husband of 46 years what seemed like a thousand questions — somewhere between the “What medications do you take daily?” and the “Have you traveled to West Africa in the last 24 days?” — Aileen Raisman had a moment. “It feels like this is all a dream, that it is happening in an alternate universe,” she said. “When you’ve waited for so long for something to happen ...” She stops, shrugs. “Every time the phone rings, you think it’s going to be someone with a kidney for you. You can’t live like that forever. You can’t do that. A mind won’t take it.” Raisman’s husband, Neal, doesn’t have to live like that anymore. After seven years of suffering with kidney disease and a year of dialysis, Mr. Raisman, a 68-year-old former college president and professor from Bexley, got a new kidney at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center’s Comprehensive Transplant Center on Friday. It came to him in a most unusual way. Dr. Amer Rajab, Mr. Raisman’s surgeon, is amazed by generosity of living donors (who do just fine with one good kidney.) “These type of people, they are superheroes,” Rajab said. Nationally, 121,028 people on Tuesday were awaiting a life-saving organ. Most needed a kidney.

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Buckeye Transplant Reunion Adds Pinwheel Garden to Annual Celebration

Nearly 1,000 invited guests and volunteers gathered for the 11th annual Buckeye Transplant Reunion on Sunday on the front plaza of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to honor former transplant patients, organ donors and living kidney donors. New this year, a pinwheel commemoration ceremony kicked off the event at 11:15 a.m., followed by the pinwheel planting event at 11:45 a.m., which created a vibrant display of 8,000 multi-colored pinwheels. Each pinwheel illustrates an organ transplant performed at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center since 1967. 

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Springfield Family Hopes Transplant Story Encourages Others to Donate

This week, 39-year-old Brian Yontz donated a kidney to his 67-year-old father, Rick Yontz, at the Comprehensive Transplant Center of Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. But the Springfield father and son clearly aren’t the only Yontzes being touched by the Yontz family transplant.

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Ohio State Performs 800th Liver Transplant, Aims to Grow Program

Manning Stewart is No. 800, though the doctor who performed his surgery doesn’t want anyone calling him that. That’s the number of liver transplants that have taken place at Ohio State University’s Wexner Center since it began transplanting livers in 1984. (No. 800 doesn’t come with a prize, unless you count the liver.) And while 800 is a good number, Dr. Ken Washburn says 1,000 is better. He expects Ohio State to hit that landmark in the next few years. In fact, he has big plans for organ transplants across Wexner Medical Center as well as at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Ohio State’s organ transplant history does have a few bumps. In 2009, the university halted its lung transplant program for four years because it was performing so few of them. Livers suffered as well, said Dr. Elmahdi Elkhammas, the longtime Ohio State liver transplant surgeon who performed Stewart’s operation. This coverage resulted from pitching efforts by OSU Wexner Medical Center Public Affairs and Media Relations.

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Columbus Woman Receives Kidney During National Kidney Month

Lori Coulter suffers from polycystic kidney disease, a condition that ends in kidney failure and causes a host of other complications. Coulter spent two years on dialysis after her first transplanted kidney failed in April of 2014. Faced with a three- to five- year wait for a new kidney on the National Registry, Coulter turned to Facebook for help. She set up a page called Find a kidney for Lori, and to her surprise a complete stranger came to her rescue. March is National Kidney Month, and fittingly both women will undergo surgery at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center on Tuesday.

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Organ Transplant Numbers on the Rise Nationwide

With 154 marathons and three Ironman races under his belt, Dan Leite never thought he would need a heart transplant. But for reasons that remain unclear, Leite's left ventricle began deteriorating, causing him to become pale and inexplicably short of breath at times. He became a transplant candidate, and got lucky: On Christmas Eve, he underwent transplant surgery at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center. His new heart first beat inside him at seven minutes past midnight on Christmas Day. Surgeons notched more than 30,000 transplants nationwide for the first time in 2015, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. The reasons for the 5 percent jump in organ transplants are unclear, though better communication between organ-procurement agencies and hospitals might be a factor, said Dr. David Klassen, the network's chief medical officer. Dr. Todd Pesavento is quoted. Drs. Sylvester Black and Bryan Whitson are featured in a photo. This coverage resulted from pitching efforts by OSU Wexner Medical Center Public Affairs and Media Relations.

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Ironman Receives New Heart on Christmas Day in Ohio

Dan Leite, 51, has always been incredibly active. In addition to serving as the vice chairman on the board for The Columbus Marathon, he has completed 154 marathons and three Iron Man competitions. Four years ago he realized something wasn't right when he was training for a race. After only a few months on the transplant list, he received a life-saving heart transplant at OSU Wexner Medical Center’s Ross Heart Hospital, beginning late Christmas Eve. His new heart took its first beats in the wee hours of Christmas morning - arguably, the best Christmas gift of all. Comprehensive Transplant Team members Drs. Ahmet Kilic, Ayesha Hasan and Sitaremesh Emani are featured. This coverage resulted from pitching efforts by OSU Wexner Medical Center Public Affairs and Media Relations.

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Social Media Post Prompts Stranger to Donate Kidney

In the halls of the Transplant Unit at OSU Wexner Medical Center two new friends have declared victory. A day of celebration that started months ago with a post on social media. “I put on Facebook ‘I normally would not ask anyone for this, but if anyone can share a spare I’ll be more than happy to take it’,” Melissa Siemer said. At 42, Siemer was out of options. She needed another kidney. Her first transplant came from a relative in 2002 after being diagnosed with IGA, a disorder that keeps the kidney from filtering properly. That kidney failed last June. “At that point in time I was willing to go out on a limb and put it on social media and she answered,” Siemer said. She was Danielle Whitmore. Whitmore found out about the post from her husband who was Facebook friends with Siemer and agreed to be checked as a possible match. “If you can save someone’s life…why not do it,” Whitmore said.

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Living Organ Donors Not Always Covered For Time Off

Liz Bekeleski went through testing to become a living donor and called her employer's benefits program in Columbus early on in the process to ask if donating would be a problem in terms of taking off work from her job at Richland Newhope. But then the benefits company told her the surgery wasn't covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act. A spokesperson from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center told the News Journal that they could not comment on how different employers address time off for living donors because each employer would handle the case differently, depending on a variety of factors.

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New Lung, New Life For Galion Woman

Pat Heffernan received a lifesaving phone call on Nov. 4, 2014. A lung transplant coordinator contacted Heffernan while she was enjoying her morning coffee. "She asked what I was doing. I said I was drinking a cup of coffee. She said, 'Dump it out,' " Heffernan said. Heffernan rushed to the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, where she underwent a lung transplant. She spent 10 days in the hospital and more than five weeks in what she called a "grown-up Ronald McDonald House." OSU had recently reopened its lung program when Heffernan became a patient. Of the OSU patients who receive a lung transplant, 89 percent live at least one year. Sixty percent live four or five years.

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Facing Organ Donor Shortage, Patients Forced to Get Creative

Dr. Todd Pesavento writes: Every 10 minutes, another name goes on the list of Americans waiting for an organ transplant. Currently, the list of patients awaiting a donation is more than 122,000 names long. Most of those patients will have to wait months or even years before finding a donor organ, and unfortunately, some never will. By the end of the day, 22 more people will die while awaiting a donor organ. The problem is, there simply aren't enough donors to meet demand. Most states have tried to bring attention to the issue by giving drivers the opportunity to become donors upon getting or renewing their driver's licenses. In May, the U.S. Senate introduced the Organ Donation Awareness and Promotion Act of 2015, and though it's yet to be voted on, it would fund efforts to further promote organ donation and raise awareness of the ongoing shortage.

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For Those in Need of Organ Donation, Is Facebook the Final Frontier?

Rubinstein was a week away from receiving a kidney transplant in December of 2009 when he learned his organ donor wouldn’t be permitted to donate. Something had come up during the routine medical checks that precede a transplant, and suddenly the surgery was off. “It was extremely difficult because I was preparing myself and preparing my family,” he told HLN. The 32-year-old was in end-stage renal failure, and desperate for a match. He went on the national organ donor waitlist but also kept up his own private search for a donor. He quickly found a second donor through word-of-mouth, but she wasn’t the right blood type. After searching for a donor for five months, he spent the next six months on dialysis. Rubinstein had been told by his doctors at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center that it could take three to five years for a match to be made through the wait list. 

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How to Become an Organ or Bone-Marrow Donor

The need for kidney donations is overwhelming. If you are healthy enough and a match, you can make a directed donation, which means one of your two kidneys would go to someone you know. For that, you must be in good overall mental health and free from uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, kidney disease and heart disease. Donors generally are ages 18 to 65. You can also become an altruistic donor, meaning that you donate a kidney that goes to someone on the national transplant list. The Comprehensive Transplant Center at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center is among the largest in the country. Doctors there perform about 200 kidney transplants a year, with about half of those coming from living donors. At OSU, the average wait time for a kidney that comes from a deceased donor is almost 34 months; the average wait time for a transplant from a living donor is less than five months. Dr. Todd Pesavento, interim executive director of the transplant center, said that only in the past decade has the notion of altruistic donors grown. Still, OSU surgeons see fewer than 10 of those donors a year.

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Organ Donation from Mom Gives Son a New Lease on Life

On Easter morning 2014, after a night of vomiting and shortness of breath, Joshua McKinney went to the emergency room at Mount Carmel Grove City. He chalked up his illness to “flulike” symptoms he just couldn’t shake. The then-30-year-old never imagined that, a few hours later, he would be told that his kidneys were failing. He was transferred to the intensive-care unit at the larger Mount Carmel East hospital. “I do remember people talking about a kidney transplant that first day,” said the Worthington resident, 32. Fortunately, by the end of Easter Sunday, he had three people — his two brothers and his mother — offering to provide kidneys. His mother — Debbie, of Orient — said that no one else needed to be tested if she was a donor match. “As the mother, I dictated who got tested first,” Mrs. McKinney said. After a series of tests, she was determined to be a match. After more than a year on dialysis, Joshua McKinney received the lifesaving transplant in July at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.

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Our Leaders

Our leaders


Kenneth Washburn, MD

Executive Director, Comprehensive Transplant Center; Director, Division of Transplantation Surgery


Ayesha Hasan, MD

Medical Director, Heart Transplant Program


Ahmet Kilic, MD

Director, Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support; Co-Director, Advanced Heart Failure Program


Amy Pope-Harman, MD

Medical Director, Lung Transplant Program


Bryan Whitson, MD, PhD

Surgical Director, Lung Transplant Program


Anthony Michaels, MD

Medical Director, Liver Transplant Program


Sylvester Black, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Surgery, Liver Transplant Program


Todd Pesavento, MD

Medical Director, Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation; Deputy Director of Medical Services, Comprehensive Transplant Center


Ronald Pelletier, MD

Surgical Director, Renal Transplantation


Amer Rajab, MD, PhD

Director, Pancreas and Islet Transplantation