Back-to-Back, Triple-Organ Transplants

In December 2018, the first back-to-back, triple-organ transplants were performed in U.S. surgical history at the University of Chicago Medical Center in Chicago, IL. Both surgeries involved 29-year-old patients in need of heart, liver, and kidney transplants. The surgeries took over seventeen and twenty hours. It was the first time a hospital has performed such complex surgeries within a one-year period. 

The transplanted organs came from a single deceased donor. While finding a match for a single organ is hard enough, finding a match for three organs is an even more difficult feat. Single organ donors are much preferred for multi-organ transplants as the body is more likely to accept foreign tissue from a single source.  

“We never in our wildest dreams imagined both [surgeries] would take place at virtually the same time,” said John Fung, a transplant surgeon and co-director of the UChicago Medicine Transplantation Institute. “Pulling this off can feel like trying to perform a high-wire ballet in the middle of running a marathon. But we were always confident in our patients as well as our team’s abilities.” 

The University of Chicago has a history of breakthroughs in transplant surgery. Starting in 1904, Alexis Carrel, a cardiac surgeon, successfully developed a technique to join severed blood vessel ends together.  

Both surgeries followed a similar pattern, beginning with the heart transplants performed by Dr. Valluvan Jeevenandam, followed by the liver transplants by Dr. Talia Baker, and finished with the kidney transplants by Dr. Yolanda Becker.   

At present, both patients remain hospitalized. They will require close monitoring in the coming year. However, the patients are optimistic about their surgeries and hope to revert to a normal life.  

The United States has a long history of pioneering advancements in the surgical field. AMOpportunities invites international medical graduates (IMGs) to complete clinical rotations  in an U.S. hospital environment. AMOpportunities offers rotations in Chicago where this historic transplant was performed and where you can find AMO headquarters. Check out our Chicago rotations to learn more.  

Source: University of Chicago