Memorial Celebrates 800th Organ Transplant

For nearly 40 years, the kidney and pancreas transplant program at Memorial Medical Center has made a difference in the lives of hundreds of patients and their loved ones, and on Dec. 26, the team celebrated a significant milestone when it performed its 800th organ transplant.

The organ — a kidney — was offered on Christmas Day, and it was a perfect match to the recipient, who had been on the waiting list for more than five years. Operating surgeon was Marc Garfinkel, MD, the program’s surgical director.

Memorial’s transplant program was founded in 1972 by the late Dr. Alan Birtch, professor emeritus of surgery at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, who served as its first medical director for more than two decades. In May 2011, the program was renamed The Alan G. Birtch, MD, Center for Transplant Services at Memorial in honor of its founder.

The transplant program offers a comprehensive approach to care for its patients, including:

  • pre-transplant evaluation for patients who wish to be considered as potential kidney or kidney/pancreas transplant recipients;
  • immediate post-operative care for transplant recipients;
  • and continued care management of patients for the lifetime of their transplanted organs.

Our program also evaluates living kidney donors interested in donating a kidney to those in need. If the donors are deemed medically and psychologically suitable, we see them safely though the donation process.

Last year, the program’s staff performed 36 organ transplants, including eight live donor kidney transplants, 23 deceased donor kidney transplants and five deceased donor kidney/pancreas transplants.

According to Transplant team member Sara Danner, the team is excited to have met this milestone and is looking forward to continuing to watch the program grow.

“After being in existence for almost 40 years and with the support of MMC and its leadership, we are proud to continue to be the only transplant center in central and southern Illinois to provide this service to the patients in our area,” she said. “With two surgeons and upcoming inclusion in the donor swap/chain program, we see our program growing dramatically.”