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Lurie Children’s Marks 800 Kidney Transplants

Lurie Children’s in September marked a significant milestone of performing 800 pediatric kidney transplants, underscoring its reputation as a national leader in pediatric kidney transplantation.

In 2021, the hospital's Siragusa Transplantation Center performed a total of 33 pediatric kidney transplants, the third most of all U.S. children’s hospitals. Furthermore, the young patients who receive kidney transplants at Lurie Children’s have outcomes better than the national average.

“This milestone conveys the amount of experience that has been accumulated over the years, and it shows how many children have been helped – how many lives of children have been changed and continue to be changed through transplantation,” said surgical director of the hospital’s kidney transplantation program, Dr. Caroline Lemoine.

The advancement of medicine and science related to transplantation has come a long way since the first ever children’s kidney transplant in Illinois, performed by Lurie Children’s (then Children’s Memorial Hospital) in 1964.

Improvements in immunosuppressant medications, which children need to protect their bodies from rejecting their new organ, play a big part of the improved outcomes; as well as careful evaluations of all aspects of the patient’s medical and surgical history before transplant to mitigate potential risks after the surgery, said Dr. Priya Verghese, Medical Director of Pediatric Kidney Transplant and Division Head of Nephrology at Lurie Children’s.

In 2021, 13 of the 33 donated kidneys came from living donors, a key factor in kidney transplantation, Dr. Lemoine said, as the number of deceased donor organs has been decreasing in recent years. In many cases a parent or another relative of a child who needs a transplant steps up to be the donor.

There are also cases in which a community member with no connection to a young patient, known as altruistic donors, volunteers to donate an organ. “These are remarkably generous and selfless people,” Dr. Lemoine said.

 Lurie Children’s not only leads in the clinical arena but has also been at the forefront of cutting-edge research to improve transplant outcomes. Their team is active nationally and internationally in transplant advocacy, research and education.

“We need the legacy of pediatric transplant medicine to remain strong and will focus on doing more, doing better and most importantly training the next generation of fellows with specialized transplant curriculums so that these incredible outcomes are just the beginning,” said Dr. Verghese.

As Lurie Children’s kidney transplant program grows, Dr. Verghese emphasized the commitment the team has to each individual young patient and their family.

 “Organ donation and transplantation are stories of innovation, transformation and hope for every child with kidney failure,” she said. “Our goal is to make sure we strive for the best clinical outcomes through focused quality improvement work and research for every single patient, no matter how big our program gets.”

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