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  • kidney transplant patient magdalena lying bed and transplant nurse

    Son’s Kidney Donation to Mom Marks 100th Kidney Transplant Performed this Year at Memorial Transplant Institute

    • Only program in Broward County to offer pediatric and adult kidney transplants
    • More than triples the number of lives saved within one year
    • Achieves one of the shortest ‘time to transplant’ in Florida

    “I got tired of seeing her suffer, so I asked them if I could take a test,” said Justin, 43, who was a perfect match for his mom, Magdalena, 62. After 12 years on dialysis and various transplant denials, Magdalena and Justin’s living donor kidney transplantation surgeries took place in late October. This transplant marked Memorial Transplant Institute’s 100th kidney transplant performed within 2022.

    Magdalena, who was born with polycystic kidneys, felt dialysis was “like a prison sentence.” She underwent multiple surgeries to try to save her kidneys and ultimately ended up on dialysis in 2009. In 2010, her social worker tried to get Magdalena on the kidney transplant list yet failed. After more than a decade on dialysis, and nearly giving up hope, everything changed in 2022 when Memorial received her petition and Magdalena received the call that changed her life.

    Justin living kidney donor lying in bed

    “It’s always a great day when a patient who has been on dialysis for 12 years receives a kidney,” said Seyed Ghasemian, MD, chief of Abdominal Transplant, Memorial Healthcare System. “A living donor transplant affords a significant advantage over a deceased donor kidney transplant, as these transplants tend to have fewer complications and on average last nearly twice as long.”

    Having a robust living-donor transplant program speaks to the expertise of Memorial’s kidney transplant team, which includes nationally recognized physicians in transplant surgery and nephrology. Dr. Ghasemian and Nephrologist Basit Javaid, MD, each have more 30 years of experience, with Ghasemian having personally performed more than 1,000 kidney transplantations and Javaid facilitating kidney transplantation with excellent post-transplant outcomes for patients with chronic and end stage kidney disease.

    Memorial’s Kidney Transplant Program is experiencing exponential growth, more than tripling the number of lives saved from 2021 to 2022. Clinical experts credit the combination of an experienced medical and surgical team that performs innovative, complex kidney transplants, coupled with the philosophy of seeing every organ as a potential chance at life, and accepting recipients who others consider “high risk.” Due to this unique approach to kidney transplantation, the program has achieved one of the shortest “time to transplant” (12 months) and one of the highest transplant rates in Florida, according to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients.

    “Memorial’s kidney transplant team is committed to ensuring the safety of our patients as we are coordinating life-saving transplants with positive outcomes,” said Dr. Javaid, chief of Abdominal Transplant Medicine, Memorial Healthcare System. “We are not turning patients or suitable organs away, and our expert team of physicians, practitioners, nurses, and support staff are addressing the disparities in organ availability by utilizing as many different methods of transplantation as possible.”

    Aside from living donor transplantation, Memorial’s Kidney Transplant Program offers all kidney transplant options available at other nationally recognized transplant centers, including immunologically incompatible transplants, blood type incompatible transplants, and kidney transplants from donors who have hepatitis C to recipients who do not.

    “Memorial is proud to be one of four transplant centers in Florida, and one of approximately a hundred such centers in the country, working with the National Kidney Registry, a nonprofit that offers a variety of living donation programs, including paired donations, also known as “kidney swap, where a living kidney donor and their incompatible recipient enter a national database and swap kidneys with a donor who is compatible with the recipient,” said Linda Chen, MD, surgical director, Living Donor and Pediatric Abdominal Transplant Program, Memorial Healthcare System.

    These physicians lead a multidisciplinary team approach to total kidney care provided by medical and surgical transplantation experts that offer highly coordinated, customized care before, during and after surgery. The team includes surgeons, nephrologists, infectious disease specialists, pathologists, nurse practitioners, coordinators, pharmacists, social workers, dieticians, finance coordinators, living donor advocates, intensive care experts, anesthesiologists, psychologists, and cardiologists, among others.

    Since the Kidney Transplant Program began in 2017, 257 patients have received life-saving kidney transplants. Most recently, the program has received referrals from all over the country and has transplanted two patients from out of state.

  • Samantha, patient testimonial

    Regular Memorial Visits Help Samantha to Live Life with Sickle Cell Disease

    Feeling fine one moment and in excruciating pain the next, Samantha said she lived with pain from sickle cell disease all of her life before coming to Memorial.

    She regularly visits Memorial’s sickle cell day hospital for pain treatments, hydration and care to avoid a sickle cell crisis.

    “We connect patients with the resources they need through a health coaching system,” says Todra Anderson-Rhodes, MD, inpatient leader, Memorial Sickle Cell Task Force.

    “Now, I have everything in order,” Samantha said. “They take your whole life into consideration. Memorial is great for just the support, the compassion and the love.”

    Sickle cell is a genetic disease named for the shape of the affected red blood cells, explains Jennifer Goldman, DO, chief, Memorial Primary Care. Instead of being round, plump and able to carry a lot of oxygen to tissues, the cells are shaped like small sickles that cause pain when they stick to blood vessel walls and block oxygen flow.

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  • Heather, holding baby

    Memorial Helps Adult Congenital Heart Disease Patient Heather During High-Risk Pregnancies

    Multiple teams of Memorial specialists care for Heather who has adult congenital heart disease — teams that have guided her through two high-risk pregnancies.

    After valve replacement surgery at Memorial, Heather decided to start a family, and during pregnancy she started coughing up blood.

    Mark Block, MD, chief, Thoracic Surgery, removed part of her lung. “She recovered, and that was the last I heard of her, at least so I thought,” he said.

    During her second pregnancy, Heather began coughing up blood again. Dr. Block used a camera to examine her windpipe, and when the bleeding became unsafe, Memorial’s high-risk OB team immediately performed a cesarean section. Then, to avoid another lung surgery, she was placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

    ECMO is like an artificial lung that oxygenates the blood and removes carbon dioxide, explained Lance Cohen, MD, medical director, Adult ECMO Program. “We supported her for a few days to allow her lungs to heal,” he said.

    “They're an amazing team,” Heather said. “It was a great relief to know that they were looking out for me and for our family.”

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