Rebecca Climer, chief marketing officer for Saint Thomas, said it is evaluating an expansion of the liver transplant program. Eason said that’s his goal.
“We certainly plan on being a full-service abdominal transplant program at Saint Thomas in Nashville,” Eason said.
The alliance gives the Memphis-based institute greater access to organ donations and Saint Thomas a higher profile in transplant surgery. Saint Thomas, which performed the state’s first heart transplant in March 1985, stopped doing those surgeries almost two years ago. Liver transplants would be a new specialty.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center is currently the only Middle Tennessee hospital that does liver or heart transplants.
Steve Baum of Franklin, a volunteer advocate for organ donation and people with liver disease, said he welcomed any development that gives patients more options.
“Anything that would add to the ability of extremely sick and dying people to get an organ transplant more quickly, I would certainly be in favor of,” Baum said.
After being diagnosed with polycystic liver and kidney diseases, he received a liver and kidney transplant four years ago at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which his doctor recommended because surgeons there specialized in his massively enlarged condition and because it had short wait times for organs.
He advises anyone needing an organ transplant to explore all options, including getting on the list at more than one transplant center, especially if they are served by different organ procurement organizations.
HOW TO HELP
Sign up to be an organ donor when renewing your driver’s license and make sure there’s a red heart near your photo. You must sign up every time you renew. Go online to www.donatelifetn.org or call 877-552-5050.
Liver transplants in Tennessee
» 203 people in Tennessee who are waiting for a liver.
» 172 livers that have been donated in Tennessee so far this year.
» 265 were donated in 2012.
Source: Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network