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Why Choose Us for Transplantation?

Organ Transplantation Began Here

Yolanda Becker with a kidney transplant patient

Organ transplantation began at the University of Chicago. In 1904, a University of Chicago doctor, Alexis Carrel, MD, performed the first animal organ transplant, which later earned him the Nobel Prize. We continue to strive to be a world leader in organ transplantation. Here are just a few of the transplant firsts that occurred here:

  • The first successful living-donor liver transplant in the world
  • The first successful heart-liver-kidney transplant in the world
  • The first segmental liver ("reduced size") and split-liver transplants in the United States

Transplant Leaders

The University of Chicago Medicine has the broadest array of transplant programs in Illinois. Each of our transplant programs offers superior care:

  • Heart Transplants: We have one of the largest heart transplant programs in the Midwest and have performed more than 300 heart transplants since 1984. One of our cardiac surgeons has performed more than 700 heart transplants during his career.
  • Kidney Transplants: Since 1970, University of Chicago doctors have performed more than 2,500 kidney transplants.
  • Liver Transplants: Since 1984, our doctors have performed more than 1,600 liver transplants--making our program one of the leaders in the nation.
  • Lung Transplants: Our transplant physicians have performed hundreds of lung transplants as well as many heart-lung transplants, making them among the most experienced in the nation.
  • Pancreas Transplants: We were the first hospital in Illinois to perform a pancreas transplant and continue to be one of the most active pancreas transplant centers in the country.
  • Islet Transplants: We are one of a select number of hospitals conducting a clinical trial on this promising treatment for type 1 diabetes.
  • Multiple Organ Transplants: We have the busiest multi-organ transplant program in Illinois.

Breakthrough Immunosuppressive Therapies

The University of Chicago has a long tradition of excellence in immunology, which has helped us achieve some of the highest graft acceptance rates in the country.

Our physicians and researchers are considered leaders in immunosuppression -- or the prevention and treatment of organ rejection. They have helped develop and/or refine many important anti-rejection medications, including OKT3, which was a mainstay immunosuppression drug for more than a decade.

Thankfully, the science of immunosuppression has become so accurate that organ rejection is now a relatively uncommon occurrence in patients who take their medications as prescribed. With that challenge met, our physicians and researchers are focusing on the next challenge: preventing and treating other common problems that develop in transplant patients, such as high blood pressure, scarring that develops in transplanted organs, and viral infections.

Experts in Retransplant Surgery

Are you eligible to be a living kidney donor?

Our transplant team is highly experienced in performing retransplant surgery (also called redo transplant) for patients who have already had a transplant and now need another transplant to replace a previously donated organ. Retransplant patients require more careful management than first-time transplant patients because the body is more likely to reject an organ after a second or third transplant.

Transplant Research & Clinical Trials

University of Chicago researchers continue to improve transplant care through promising research in several areas:

  • Clinical trials of new methods of immunosuppression and other aspects of transplant care are always under way on the University of Chicago medical campus. Voluntary participation in clinical trials is available to many patients undergoing treatment here.
  • Our physicians have been pioneers in the development of a biomechanical liver support device that is currently in developmental trials. These trials will, hopefully, lead to the first approved device to help support a failing liver.
  • We offer new techniques for matching donor kidneys with recipients, including the use of a highly sensitive fluorescence activated cell sorter. This machine uses advanced technology to help ensure a good match between donor and recipient.
  • Our center is collaborating with several other centers in the Midwest to develop a kidney exchange program to identify patients who have living donors that they are not compatible with who might be able to successfully “swap” kidneys.

Home to Hundreds of Medical Experts

Once you or your loved one becomes a transplant patient here, you enter a world-class medical center that can take care of all your medical needs. Before and after your transplant, you have access to hundreds of knowledgeable experts. The University of Chicago Medicine is home to some of the world’s most respected specialists in diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, heart disease, digestive disorders, and other health problems.

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  • Alcoholic liver disease
  • Alport's syndrome
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Benign strictures of the biliary tree
  • Bile duct surgery
  • Bile duct tumors
  • Blood diseases
  • Chronic active hepatitis
  • Chronic renal obstructive disorders
  • Congenital nephritic syndrome
  • Cystinosis
  • Heart failure
  • Immune deficiency disorders
  • Intestinal failure
  • Kidney diseases
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver cancer
  • Liver diseases
  • Liver surgery
  • Liver tumors
  • Multi-organ failure
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis
  • Sclerosing cholangitis
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Other related diseases and conditions of failing organs