Innovations in Transplant Medicine

From a first-of-its-kind transplant to a machine to keep donor organs viable for longer, Johns Hopkins’ Department of Surgery is performing pioneering procedures and continuing to push the boundaries of medical science.

Reporting System Could Reduce National Waitlist for Kidney Transplants

Transplant surgeon Jacqueline Garonzik Wang and research mentor Dorry Segev are developing report cards for transplant centers showing their use of “suboptimal” kidneys, which are from older or hepatitis-infected donors and donors after cardiac death. Despite the positive outcomes of transplanting suboptimal kidneys, utilization rates vary widely among transplant centers nationwide. 

The concept is that when surgeons are offered a suboptimal kidney from their local organ procurement organization, information about the organ would be paired with data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients. The data would show outcomes associated with transplants using organs of similar quality in hopes that the information could help change organ selection behavior and increase the use of suboptimal kidneys to ultimately reduce the number of patients on the transplant waiting list.

Read more: Kidney Transplant Team Researching How to Reduce National Waitlist.

A U.S. First: Living Donor HIV-to-HIV Kidney Transplant

A multidisciplinary team led by Dorry Segev, professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, performed a kidney transplant from a donor living with HIV to a recipient also living with HIV for the first time in the U.S. Segev and his colleagues determined that new HIV drugs are safe for the kidney and that those with well-controlled HIV have essentially the same risks as those without and are healthy enough to donate kidneys.

Read more: First Living Donor HIV-to-HIV Kidney Transplant in the U.S.

Keeping Organs Viable for Longer

Transplant teams at Johns Hopkins have been exploring ex vivo machine perfusion as a means to expand the donor pool, increase the range of donor hospitals, and gain extra time to determine an organ’s health and performance before a transplant. This process involves continuously pumping blood through the donor organ to keep it warm and more viable for transplant. Shane Ottmann is the principal investigator for the liver transplant team and Errol Bush is leading the lung transplant team to test ex vivo machine perfusion.

Read more: Trials Test Ex Vivo Machine Perfusion for Liver and Lung Transplants.

$8.4M NIH Grant to Expand Liver Transplant Study

A six-year Johns Hopkins pilot study made the case for giving liver transplants to select patients with alcoholic hepatitis (inflammation of the liver from excessive alcohol use), as opposed to requiring a six-month sobriety period. The study found that the relapse rate among patients who did not have a wait period was identical to those who did, and the rates of transplant function and patient survival were statistically identical. Researchers received an $8.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to expand this study. 

Read more: Alcohol Relapse Rate Among Liver Transplant Recipients Identical Whether or Not There is A 6-Month Wait Before Transplant.

Gala Supports Pancreatic Cancer Research

The inaugural Faith Hope Love Gala raised nearly $200,000 to support pancreatic cancer research at Johns Hopkins.

A photo shows attendees at the Faith Hope Love Gala.

Gifts Launch Rectal Cancer Survivorship Fund

Created by Tom and Debra Dattilo, the account helps provide survivorship bags containing items new patients may need during treatment.

A photo shows Tom Dattilo, Debra Dattilo and Jonathan Dattilo.

'Philanthropy Is Part of the Healing'

Many donors are current or former patients who want to support their physician’s research or help ensure future patients will find the same support.

Many donors are current or former patients who want to support their physician’s research or help ensure future patients will find the same support.