Intermountain Healthcare Transplant Program Surpasses 5,000 Life-Saving Organ Transplants and Has Another Record-Breaking Year in 2021 Despite Pandemic

January 13, 2022 – Intermountain Healthcare performed its 5,000th adult solid organ transplant in 2021 and had another record year, thanks to organ donors and their families and a transplant team committed to helping patients receive life-saving organ transplant opportunities despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

This is the third consecutive record-breaking year for the Intermountain Transplant Services team, performing 289 solid organ transplants: which includes kidney (170), pancreas (6), liver (94), and heart (19) transplants. 

“COVID may have turned the world upside down, but our transplant team has been creative and worked hard to change a lot of lives in another unprecedented year,” said Diane Alonso, MD, transplant surgeon and medical director of Intermountain Healthcare’s abdominal transplant program. “We’re proud of every caregiver at Intermountain Healthcare and the team who worked tirelessly to innovate ways to safely discover additional donor opportunities.” 

The 5,000th transplant comes since Intermountain Transplant Services performed Utah’s first solid organ transplant at LDS Hospital when a sister donated one of her kidneys to her brother. 

The success of Intermountain’s transplant program, which serves patients throughout the nation, is the result of many multi-disciplinary teams working together. 

Here are just a few examples: 

  • Partnering with the National Kidney Foundation helped make Intermountain a leading program nationally in the Kidney for Life Program, transplanting exceptionally well-matched living kidney donors from a national pool. Intermountain also continues to be the only transplant program in Utah to participate in the paired kidney exchange program. 
  • The Intermountain transplant program partnered with DonorConnect, the organ procurement agency for Utah and Intermountain West, identifying donors who are often overlooked, then using them successfully with exceptional outcomes. 
  • Working with community hospitalists, gastroenterologists, nephrologists and intensivists to expand the living organ donor program to be the largest in Utah. 
  • The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) also reported a record-breaking year. Dec. 17, 2021, the U.S. officially surpassed 40,000 transplants in one year, an historic first for the nation. As of today, 106, 660 men, women and children are on the waiting list for a transplant, which is at the lowest it has been since 2009. In Utah, there are 823 people waiting for an organ, according to UNOS. 

“In what has been a challenging year for every family, we so appreciate that the community continues to recognize the value through organ donation to save a life,” said Richard Gilroy, MD, transplant hepatologist and Intermountain Healthcare’s liver transplant medical director. “It Is only through these precious gifts that we restore and save lives.”

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