the torch Spring 2015, Issue 1 - Page 12

Celebrating Dr. Göran Klintmalm and 30 years of life-saving transplants at Baylor It’s been more than 30 years since the first transplant was performed at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, launching a program that has saved thousands of lives and has had a profound impact on both patients and their families. In 1984, Baylor’s transplant program was just in the planning stages. Operating rooms were being outfitted, instruments were being acquired. The surgical team was still being assembled and oriented when a young Indiana child became desperately ill. She’d been in and out of hospitals for five years due to a bile duct disorder called biliary atresia. As her health quickly deteriorated, it was apparent that her only chance for survival was a liver transplant. Her family assumed that if and when an organ donor was located, they would rush to Pittsburgh. “The program in Pittsburgh was the only liver transplant program in the United States and only one of five in the world,” remembered Tom Starzl, M.D., the godfather of liver transplantation and professor of surgery at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “But, our hospitals were filled; we had no intensive care unit beds.” Thankfully, Dr. Starzl had a backup plan. He encouraged the administration and physicians at Baylor Dallas to launch a transplant program and handpicked their surgeon, Göran Klintmalm, M.D., Ph.D. He knew the Dallas hospital had the expertise, manpower and motivation to help. They all came together in Dallas on a cold winter night in 1984 to save a little girl’s life. The event christened what would become the Annette C. and Harold C. Simmons Transplant Institute as one of the first transplant centers in the United States, and set the tone for the Simmons Transplant Institute’s leadership and direction for decades to come. Today, the Simmons Transplant Institute is recognized internationally as having one of the finest kidney, liver and pancreas transplant programs in the world and one of the largest multi-specialty transplant centers in the United States. In addition, it has the second largest heart transplant program in the nation. What does 30 years of transplant at Baylor Health Care System look like? More than 11,000 transplants – that includes more than 12 3,867 liver transplants, 3,951 kidneys, 256 pancreases, 659 hearts, 360 lungs – and counting. At an event held in January celebrating the 30th anniversary, Dr. Klintmalm was honored for his leadership at Baylor and in the field of transplantation with a surprise reveal. The second floor of Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center was renamed in his honor: the Göran Klintmalm, M.D., Ph.D. Mezzanine. In addition to saving thousands of lives, the Simmons Transplant Institute currently participates in more than 80 active research protocols and has trained more than 46 transplant surgeons and nine hepatologists, many of whom have gone on to lead major transplant programs around the world. Despite transplantation medical advancements, roughly 21 people die each day due to a shortage of donated organs. The Simmons Transplant Institute’s efforts to fight the shortage include research into the use of stem cells to repair and create organs, “personalized” gene-based diagnosis and therapy of organs, and immune system treatment to reduce organ rejection. This research has been made possible in large part due to the Institute’s biorepository, the largest in the world, which contains more than 85,000 serum and cell samples from liver transplant recipients. Over the past 30 years, generous donors have granted more than $33 million to support research, medical education and patient-centered care for transplant patients, including a transformational gift in 2010 from Annette C. and Harold C. Simmons to support the Institute. It was subsequently renamed in their honor. Most recently, the JLH Foundation made a generous grant to provide transplant patients and their families with financial assistance for the numerous out-of-pocket, unreimbursed expenses that arise while awaiting or recovering from solid organ transplantation, including lodging, parking, food and travel costs. For more information about transplant initiatives, contact Melissa Dalton at 214.820.2705 or