Five Transplants in 24 Hours Sets Record


In a whirlwind of care team heroics, Packard Children’s performed five organ transplants within 24 hours starting Monday, April 22. “We’ve done four in a day before, but never five,” said Louise Furukawa, MD, anesthesia resource coordinator. Transplants happen with little notice once donor organs become available, so Furukawa and Echo Rowe, MD, had huge roles quickly coordinating operating rooms, assigning staff, moving cases around and more. “Thanks to our team’s skill and experience, everyone knew where to be and what to do in order to be ready for an epic day,” Fukukawa said.

Now, doctors have announced that all the surgeries were a success and that the patients are recovering well. “We won’t forget this experience,” said transplantation chief Carlos Esquivel, MD, who’s been transplanting organs for 25 years. “It took quick planning and incredible teamwork by surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and care teams throughout the hospital.”

Transplant timeline for April 22

5:08am Monday:
Esquivel leads surgery to split the liver of a deceased organ donor so that it can be given to two recipients. In the meantime, Marc Melcher, MD, is removing the diseased liver of a 2-year-old boy. Soon after, Esquivel implants one portion of the split liver into the toddler.

5:18am  Monday:
Waldo Concepcion, MD, begins the transplant of the other portion of the split liver into a 15-year-old girl.

1:55pm Monday:
Olaf Reinhartz, MD, starts heart transplant surgery for a 3-year-old boy.

1:17am Tuesday:
Concepcion is back in surgery, this time transplanting a kidney into a 15-year-old boy.

1:27am Tuesday:
Amy Gallo, MD, begins a kidney transplant for a 14-year-old girl.

(Several hours prior to each transplant, surgery teams from Packard Children’s traveled to other hospitals to procure the donor organs.)

It was certainly an unprecedented period for Packard Children’s, home to the largest pediatric solid organ transplant program in America, including:

“This was the ultimate demonstration of the passion we have for healing children through transplant,” said Concepcion, who once led five kidney transplants in two days. “Care teams throughout the hospital immediately got into it. Experience matters, and they all put in lots of extra hours in order to ensure everything would go smoothly.” Concepcion also noted that other surgeons postponed scheduled cases to make room for the transplants. “It was impressive but not surprising,” he said. “Everyone was thrilled to see so many transplants save so many lives in such a short period of time.”

Of course, the gift of organ donation keeps on giving. That’s why the next day, April 23, while intensive care specialists were busy managing the patients’ post-transplant recovery, surgeon Reinhartz was back at it. At 3 p.m., he returned to the hospital’s Ford Family Surgery Center to lead the transplant of a donor heart to save the life of a baby.

That meant six transplants in 36 hours. Perhaps another record?


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