Newswise — The Vanderbilt Transplant Center performed a record number of solid organ transplants in fiscal year 2021 (FY 21) — 637 life-saving procedures among its adult and pediatric programs — despite occurring entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The total number of transplants from FY 21, the period between July 2020 and the end of June 2021, are up 10% from the 578 transplants during the same period in FY 20. 

In FY 21, Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) performed 590 adult transplants and 47 pediatric transplants, records for both age groups. 

“This outstanding, sustained effort is the result of the collaborative work of a huge team of uncompromising professionals,” said Seth Karp, MD, H. William Scott Jr. Professor, chair of the Section of Surgical Sciences and director of the Vanderbilt Transplant Center. 

In the Adult Transplant program in FY 21, teams performed 298 kidney transplants (including simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplants and pancreas-after-kidney transplants), 129 heart transplants, 120 liver transplants, and 43 lung transplants. 

Pediatric transplant teams with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt performed 18 kidney transplants, 20 heart transplants and nine liver transplants. 

Growth was especially pronounced in the adult heart transplant program, which increased to 129 in FY 21, up from 111 in FY 20. VUMC’s heart transplant program is the largest overall by volume in the world. 

Significant gains were also seen in kidney transplants. Adult kidney transplants increased to 298 in FY 21 from 252 in FY 20; pediatric transplants increased to 18 from 10. 

“I’m very proud of the Transplant Center’s accomplishments and the continual progress demonstrated by each of the individual programs. With incredible focus throughout the past year, every member of the team contributed to the lives of these patients being saved,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer for VUMC.     

In 2020, VUMC exceeded 10,000 total transplants of all organs since its first kidney transplant in 1962. Over the years, Vanderbilt has had a succession of firsts. VUMC performed its first heart transplant in 1985, the Southeast’s first combined heart/lung transplant in 1987, first liver transplant in 1991, and first single-lung transplant in 1990. Vanderbilt completed its first successful double-lung transplant in 1994, first heart-lung-liver triple transplant in 2000, Tennessee’s first paired kidney exchange in 2004 and first combined heart-kidney in 2008.

Recent accomplishments include the first pediatric heart-kidney transplant in 2016 and first heart-liver in 2017. 

Vanderbilt now serves about 9,000 transplant patients, and it takes a highly specialized, multidisciplinary team of about 150 people to work on a single transplant. The transplant teams include physicians in each organ specialty, surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists, intensivists, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, social workers, financial coordinators, nutritionists, organ procurement coordinators, preservationists and operating room staff, among others.