Breaking records and blazing trails: Pediatric Transplant Center

Carlos Esquivel, MD

Exciting news coming out of our Pediatric Transplant Center in the past week. On Friday, November 11, we announced a record month for transplant volume and on the same day, a cover story was published in the Silicon Valley Business Journal exploring the Center’s ascendance as the leading transplant program in the region.

The month of October brought life-saving organ transplants for sixteen children at our hospital, a record for the most transplant surgeries performed at the hospital in a single month. The volume was attributed to three factors: the donor families who made the organ donations possible, the Transplant Center’s ability to take on the most complex cases, and a greater number of referrals from doctors who are connecting with Stanford’s transplant experts via telemedicine.

The release highlights the stories of two patients: a 7-month-old baby who received a liver transplant and a fourteen-year-old girl who received a rare, double-lung transplant.

Packard Children’s Pediatric Transplant Center has become a destination center for the most acute and complex cases, which require highly specialized care. October’s transplant recipients came from all over California and the western United States.

“Our ability to take on cases that would be rejected for transplant elsewhere is a credit to the level of expertise, not only of our surgeons, but the entire transplant care team,” said Carlos Esquivel, MD, PhD, chief of abdominal transplantation at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford and Stanford University School of Medicine.

“From caring for the youngest transplant patients, to pioneering care for patients with rare diseases who are the first with their condition to be transplanted, to performing complex multi-organ transplants — this team is the best of the best.”

The Silicon Valley Business Journal published a cover story profiling our Transplant Center, featuring interviews with Dr. Esquivel and Dennis Lund, MD, chief medical officer at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and Stanford Medicine Children’s Health.

“That’s the beauty of being in this place, because it’s a place that fosters innovation — in patient selection, in immunosuppression, in developing new assays, techniques and post-operative care,” said Esquivel.

Along with his organ transplant team, Dr. Esquivel came to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford in 1995. He started doing transplants 30 years ago in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with Dr. Thomas Starzl, who performed the first human liver transplant.

Dr. Esquivel dared to perform many high-risk transplants for infants when others wouldn’t. Back then, “the results were so bad that no one wanted to transplant these children,” he says. “I thought, ‘This is not right.’”

The average survival rate for children under 1 year of age was around 68 percent at the time, “but when you looked at the alternative, that was zero percent. They were all going to die,” he says. “Now the survival for these children is almost 100 percent — for a 1-year-old. It’s amazing that in 30 years you can see so much progress — the evolution is incredible.”

Many patients remain in contact with their transplant surgeons’ years after receiving their organs. Doctors see them as more than just patients. “You have this extended family,” Dr. Esquivel told the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

The article highlights two patients’ stories and their journeys through transplant. Thirty-two-year-old Renee Elizabeth Williams, now executive director of a legal services firm in Pennsylvania, she said her transplant at the age of just 14-months-old taught her to “live harder and bigger.”

As reported to the Silicon Valley Business Journal:

When she graduated from University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Williams’ parents fulfilled her request for a special graduation gift. She wanted to fly to the San Francisco Bay Area to meet Dr. Esquivel, the doctor she’d never had an opportunity to thank for performing her liver transplant when she was just a baby.

“He’s so warm,” she says. “It was like seeing an old friend. It’s partly like a child getting to meet their superhero.” Dr. Esquivel showed Williams a scrapbook he’d collected over the years about his patients.

For 15-year-old Danville, CA resident Julia Shurman, who met Dr. Esquivel after learning she would need a liver transplant, her new organ has allowed her to return to “going to school and being a normal kid and trying to give back to the people who have helped me so much,” she told the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

The cornerstone of transplant is organ donation. For the past 2 years, the hospital has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for its promotion of California’s organ donor registry and its efforts to educate and register new donors.

“We can’t ever say enough of the importance of organ donation,” said Debra Strichartz, administrative director of the Pediatric Transplant Center. “There are often no words to describe its meaning for those on both ends, the family who donates and the patient who receives.”

Learn more about our Pediatric Transplant Center:


3 Responses to “Breaking records and blazing trails: Pediatric Transplant Center”

  1. Tracie Gomez

    How do I become a donor for a kidney .would like to donate my kidney to a child who needs one

  2. Lori Luckas

    My 4 week old grandchild at Levine Hospital in Charlotte North Carolina is not responding to his kidney dialysis treatments. After several surgeries the catheter and attempts at adjustments searching for a blockage it is not working. We are desperate for guidance!!! He has no other lifeline at this point!!! Luke is not giving up on us and We are not giving up on him!!!

    Lori Luckas

  3. Lori Luckas

    at three months young, Luke is into week number four of hemodialysis at Levine’s Children’s Hospital in Charlotte NC.


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