Transplant Services

Specializing Institutions

Organ transplantation is the moving of an organ from one body to another with the purpose of replacing a patient’s damaged or absent organ. Organs that can be transplanted are the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas, intestine and thymus. Tissue transplants also exist. Some of the most commonly transplanted tissues are bones, tendons, corneas, skin, valves and veins. The kidneys are the most commonly transplanted organs, followed closely by the liver and the heart. Not everyone is a good candidate for an organ transplant. Patients with infection, heart disease, drug or alcohol problems are not good organ transplant candidates. Organ transplants have been done in the United States since the 1950s. Today, transplants are more successful than ever. There are currently more than 100,000 people in the U.S. waiting for an organ.

There are many highly skilled transplant surgeons at The South Texas Medical Center. Our partner institutions that specialize in transplants offer advanced transplant services, perform pioneering research and foster a community of transplant survivors, donor families, specialists and social workers to support patients every step of the way. We also host the only living liver transplant facility in Texas. A living donation provides significant benefits to the patient starting with a shorter wait and an improved organ transplantation rate.

Transplant services at the South Texas Medical Center include bone marrow, kidney, liver, pancreas, heart, lung and adult stem cell transplants. Our institutions have exceptional patient outcomes and consistently meet and exceed nation averages. Institutions also offer pediatric transplant programs specializing in kidney and liver transplants. Transplant patients receive life-long care at the South Texas Medical Center.

Transplant Articles

  • Lack of insurance bars some from hepatitis C treatment

    By Kathryn Doyle

    (Reuters Health) - Survey data from 2001 to 2010 show that lack of insurance kept some people with hepatitis C virus from getting treatment.

    Recently, more effective and well-tolerated drugs have been developed to treat hepatitis C, removing many of the discouraging side effects of older drugs. The infection is curable and transmission can be prevented, researchers write in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

    But for the more than three million people in the U.S. who have chronic liver disease from hepatitis C, there are still two important barriers to getting treatment, said lead author Dr. Ivo Ditah from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

    First, many people with the disease do not know they have it, because they feel no symptoms. Once they've been screened and tested positive, those without health insurance or with poor health insurance likely cannot afford the $250,000 to $350,000 price tag for medications and facility fees, Ditah said.

    For the new study, he and his coauthors used National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data, which includes blood testing for infections like hep C, from 2001 to 2010.

    Of 38,025 people sampled, 502 tested positive for hep C and 205 were available six months later for follow-up testing. The rest, who tended to be less educated, injecting drugs or not have health insurance, could not be reached.

    Half of those 205 patients said they were not aware of their infection until the surveys were done, and 166 pursued further testing or evaluation, but only 18 received therapy. Lack of health insurance coverage was the only predicting factor for who would not receive treatment.

    "I think the message remains very strong that a lack of health insurance is going to be a major stumbling block," Ditah told Reuters Health by phone. "We see a lot of denials from insurance companies not to cover these medications. It's a huge problem."

    Hep C can be spread by sharing needles, being born to a mother who has the infection, and less commonly through sexual contact. Until the early 1990s, it could also be spread by blood transfusions, but now blood banks can test for the virus in stored blood.

    Chronic liver infection can result in long-term health problems, including liver damage, liver failure, liver cancer, or even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hepatitis C is the leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation in the U.S.

    Up to 25 percent of people who get chronic hepatitis C will clear the virus on their own, while the rest require treatment, according to the CDC.

    As newer versions of the best treatments are developed, those in use now will gradually become less expensive, and insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act has expanded since 2010, Ditah said.

    As more people get health insurance, the proportion of people with the infection who cannot be reached will continue to go down, he said.

    The CDC recommends that all people of the "baby boomer" generation, born between 1945 and 1965, be screened for hepatitis C.

    "Those recommendations should be followed. If they are found to have the infection then a good chunk will get treatment," unless they don't have good health insurance, Ditah said.

    SOURCE: American Journal of Gastroenterology, online March 10, 2015

  • Views of terminally-ill children should be heard -new UK guidelines

    By Kate Kelland

    LONDON (Reuters) - Britain issued new guidance on Tuesday for doctors treating severely or terminally ill children, strongly advising that children's own views on whether they want to live or die should be taken into account.

    The guidelines, from Britain's Royal College of Pediatrics and Child health, will be watched carefully around the world, experts said, since Britain is one of the few countries to have a framework to help doctors decide if and when to withdraw life-sustaining treatment from a child.

    "This is not an easy area of medicine. Sadly we can't save every child's life," said Joe Brierley, a pediatric and neonatal intensive care consultant at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital. "Other countries are listening to what we're saying and following what we're doing."

    The guidance, drawn up by doctors, lawyers and medical ethicists, advises for the first time that sick children as young as nine who have little hope of a fulfilling life should be given more say about whether their treatment should stop.

    A child who has had many chemotherapy sessions, or a bone marrow or organ transplant that has not gone well "will have more informed views about continuing treatment than an adult facing such treatment for the first time", the advice says.

    Vi Larcher, a former consultant in pediatrics and ethics, and co-author of the guidance, said it sought to address "an underlying concern that we're doing too much for too many for too long".

    Advances in medicine mean more and more babies are being born very prematurely -- and some born as early as 22 weeks gestation are able to survive. Older children with conditions such as severe head injuries also have better survival chances thanks to medical progress.

    Yet the guidelines urge doctors to consider carefully whether continuing treatment is always the right thing for a very sick child.

    "For some, continuing life-sustaining treatment is simply prolonging suffering in the face of the inregsevitable," said Simon Newell, a neonatal consultant at Britain's Leeds General Infirmary.

    "For (some) babies, no treatment is going to cure them and their quality of life is non-existent," he told a briefing.

    Previous guidance suggested that doctors should not resuscitate or give intensive care to premature babies born at 22 weeks gestation or less, and should only attempt treatment in babies born at 22 to 23 weeks if parents and other carers agree.