Back in business

UF reopens pancreas transplant program

By Laura Mize

The pancreas transplant program at UF&Shands, the University of Florida Academic Health Center, is again open and accepting patients.

The United Network for Organ Sharing, the nation’s official organ donation and transplant oversight organization, approved the program’s reactivation on Oct. 22.

UF&Shands voluntarily suspended its adult and pediatric liver transplant programs and pancreas transplant program in August 2011 after several key surgeons were recruited by medical centers in larger cities. The institution’s other organ transplant programs were not affected and remained operational. The liver transplant programs became active again in April.

The pancreas transplant program’s reactivation follows the addition this summer of two surgeons to the UF College of Medicine’s department of surgery: Kenneth Andreoni, M.D., the pancreas transplant program’s lead surgeon and an associate professor, and Brendan Boland, M.D., an assistant professor.

“We are delighted to reactivate our pancreas transplant program,” said Kevin Behrns, M.D., chair of the UF College of Medicine department of surgery. “We look forward to providing high-quality care to patients who need this service. We appreciate the support of our patients and the dedication of our staff and colleagues who have made this transition possible.”

Andreoni came to UF from the Ohio State University, where he worked as an associate professor of surgery in the division of abdominal transplantation. He also is chairman of the membership and professional standards committee of the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS. Boland previously worked at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center as a liver transplant and hepatobiliary surgeon and an assistant professor.

Tim Goldfarb, chief executive officer of Shands, praised employees who continued working with patients while the program was inactive.

“Our Shands abdominal transplant coordinators worked tirelessly to make sure our patients and their families experienced a seamless transition and received great personal support and care throughout this hiatus,” Goldfarb said. “As a result, many of the patients still awaiting pancreas and pancreas-kidney transplants have communicated their wishes to return to Shands for transplant care now that we have reactivated the program.”

Even while the pancreas transplant program was inactive, UF&Shands continued to provide post-transplant care for patients. Transplant teams are now working to assist patients awaiting pancreas and pancreas-kidney transplants — typically performed on patients who suffer kidney failure due to Type 1 diabetes — who want to resume care at UF&Shands.

Jeffrey Fair, M.D., chief of the department of surgery’s division of transplantation, highlighted the program’s collaboration with providers from varied areas of health care as one of its greatest strengths.

“It dovetails with the kidney transplant program, as well as diabetes management programs,” said Fair, who joined UF&Shands in March. “That’s just strength of a solid, committed academic health care system with transplant programs within it.”

Honoring life

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded its Medal of Honor to several programs within the Shands Transplant Center at UF and its organ procurement arm LifeQuest. The awards are given based on rates of transplant, patient survival after transplant, and death while waiting for a transplant. Shands and LifeQuest won silver medals in the “donor hospital” and “organ procurement organization” categories, respectively. The kidney transplant program won bronze, as did the kidney-pancreas transplant program.

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