ST. LOUIS – It was one of the first programs of its kind in the country. Now the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish liver transplant program is celebrating 30 years of changing lives.
In 1985, Barnes-Jewish Hospital became the 16th hospital in the world with a dedicated liver transplantation program and the first in Missouri to perform a successful liver transplant. By the 1990s, the hospital was performing up to 35 transplants a year.
This year, nearly 100 patients have received new livers at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. The program is one of the world’s largest, with surgeons completing more than 1,700 liver transplants since 1985.
“This is a milestone for us and for our patients,” says Jeffrey Crippin, MD, medical director of the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center. “The program has garnered valuable experience over time and built a strong reputation. I’m proud to say that we’ve helped many patients and provided them with the best possible care.”
For the last 30 years, patients from across the country have benefited from the expertise of the multidisciplinary teams that make up the liver transplant programs. Led by Washington University transplant surgeons and hepatologists specializing in liver diseases, Barnes-Jewish is a leader in the field.
“Our liver transplant program has more than doubled in size since it began,” says Gene Ridolfi, RN, director of transplant services at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. “Our successes, in both volume and outcomes, are driven by an effective multidisciplinary team.”
Since 1985, the team has seen an increase in the number of transplants needed to address conditions such as hepatocellular liver cancer and cholangiocarcinoma, or bile duct cancer.
“Our surgeons have developed models of excellence in the field of liver cancer,” says Ridolfi. “Helping these patients requires a team of clinicians, including transplant coordinators, hepatologists, transplant surgeons, interventional radiologists and oncologists. We have a well-coordinated team that does an amazing job caring for patients with these complicated diseases.”
With patient outcomes among the best in the nation, Washington University School of Medicine transplant specialists have helped more than 1,700 adult liver transplant recipients survive life-threatening illness, giving them a chance for renewed health. Patients who qualify for liver transplantation are cared for by the hospital’s liver specialists and guided through the process by a transplant coordinator, who helps manage care before and after surgery.
“Part of our success is due to the dedication of all those involved in patient care — from the coordinators and the social workers to the rehabilitation specialists and the physicians and surgeons all working in collaboration,” says William Chapman, MD, chief of the Division of General Surgery and surgical director of the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center.
Chapman added, “We’re extremely proud of what the program has been able to achieve over the last 30 years and we look forward to another successful 30 years of providing the best possible care for patients with liver disease through transplantation.”
Learn more about the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish liver transplant program.
About Barnes-Jewish Hospital
Barnes-Jewish Hospital is a 1,315 bed teaching hospital affiliated with Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo. The hospital has a 1,763 member medical staff, with many recognized as "Best Doctors in America." Barnes-Jewish is a member of BJC HealthCare, which provides a full range of health care services through its 12 hospitals and more than 100 health care sites in Missouri and Illinois.
Kara Price Shannon