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

  • Double arm transplant recipient thanks doctors in Boston

    By Richard Valdmanis

    BOSTON (Reuters) - A 40-year-old quadruple amputee on Tuesday thanked the Boston surgeons who performed a rare dual arm transplant on him last month and described the experience of getting the new limbs as surreal.

    Will Lautzenheiser, who lost his arms and legs to a streptococcal infection in 2011, said he has limited function in the new arms, which are encumbered by wrappings to help with healing.

    The arms were attached from an anonymous donor in a nine-hour operation at Brigham & Women's Hospital.

    "I want to thank the doctors for their great service," an emotional Lautzenheiser said at a news conference at the hospital. "I want to thank everyone."

    He said having the new limbs was "incredible" and "surreal."

    Lautzenheiser, a former professor of film production and screenwriting at Boston University and Montana State University, has a long stretch of therapy ahead but hopes to return to his career.

    The family of the anonymous donor told Lautzenheiser in a statement issued Tuesday that it hoped he would make a "wonderful recovery, and that your loved ones will be able to enjoy your warm embrace."

    The surgery involved 35 medical staff, including 13 surgeons, according to Brigham & Women's Hospital.

    While rare, there have been other double-arm transplants in the United States recent years. In 2012, a U.S. soldier who lost all four limbs in a roadside explosion in Iraq had double-arm transplant surgery at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

  • HIV drugs show promise in treating common eye disease

    By Will Dunham

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A class of drugs used for three decades by people infected with the virus that causes AIDS may be effective in treating a leading cause of blindness among the elderly.

    HIV drugs called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), including AZT and three others, blocked age-related macular degeneration in mice and worked well in experiments involving human retinal cells in the laboratory, researchers said on Thursday.

    In HIV-infected people, NRTIs block an enzyme the virus uses to create more copies of itself. The new research shows the drugs also block the activity of a biological pathway responsible for activating inflammatory processes in the body.

    It is that previously unrecognized quality that makes NRTIs promising for treating macular degeneration as well as graft-versus-host disease, a rarer ailment that can occur after a stem cell or bone marrow transplant, the researchers said.

    University of Kentucky ophthalmologist Dr. Jayakrishna Ambati, who led the study published in the journal Science, said macular generation affects an estimated 50 million people worldwide.

    "With the aging of the population, it is projected to affect 200 million people by the year 2020. It is therefore critical that we develop new and improved treatments for this disease, which is growing like an epidemic," Ambati said.

    Macular degeneration causes cells to die in the macula, a part of the eye located near the center of the retina that permits vision in fine detail.

    The chronic disease has two forms: "dry" and "wet." Several treatments exist for "wet" macular degeneration but only about a third of patients get significant vision improvement. There are no approved treatments for the "dry" form, which is much more common but less severe.

    The "wet" type occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula and leak blood and fluid. The "dry" form occurs when cells in the macula break down.

    In the new study, the NRTIs blocked a powerful collection of proteins that can kill cells in the retina, preserving vision in mice.

    Researchers are planning for clinical trials in the coming months and it could be known in as soon as two to three years whether the drugs are effective in treating macular degeneration in people, Ambati said.

    Because these inexpensive drugs are already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and have a good safety record, they could be "repurposed" rapidly to treat other illnesses, he added.

    SOURCE: Science, online November 20, 2014.