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Transplant Surgery

History of Transplant Surgery

The commitment to organ transplantation at Tufts Medical Center dates back nearly 40 years. Transplant efforts at the Medical Center began in the 1950's, when researchers began investigating agents to suppress the immune system. In 1959, Tufts University researchers Robert Schwartz and William Dameshek made the breakthrough discovery of the immunosuppressive properties of 6-mercaptopurine, that led to the formulation of the drug azathioprine (now better known as Imuran) and heralded the modern era of transplant immunosuppression worldwide. In 1964, the first human small bowel transplants in the world were performed at Tufts Medical Center by J. Herbert Fischer.

A legacy continued

While this department has had vigorous heart, liver and kidney transplant programs, today we focus on heart and kidney transplantation. Multidisciplinary teams of transplant physicians, surgeons, nurses and support staff work together to provide a smooth, easy transition from patient evaluation to transplant and recovery.

The clinical transplant program at Tufts Medical Center began with kidney transplantation in 1971, and as of January 2013, over 1200 living-related, living unrelated and deceased-donor kidney transplants have been performed.

In 1983, when liver transplantation evolved from an exotic experiment into an accepted treatment, Tufts Medical Center initiated a liver transplant program, with the first surgery in 1984. More than 750 liver transplants were done through 2009 when our liver transplant effort was merged with that of the Lahey Clinic. We still evaluate patients for liver transplantation, however, and manage them post-transplantation.

The Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplant Center, which operates through Tufts Medical Center's Cardiovascular Service, began performing heart transplants in 1985 and a Bone Marrow Transplant Unit was established in the Medical Center's Department of Hematology/Oncology in 1987. In addition, a variety of other tissues-including heart valves, corneas and orthopaedic products-are transplanted regularly.

World-class experts providing exceptional care

The transplant services at Tufts Medical Center are fully accredited by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and all relevant authorities of Massachusetts. Jeffery Cooper, MD, Transplant Surgeon, is the Tufts Medical Center representative to UNOS.

Tufts Medical Center has achieved its reputation as a world-class transplantation center based on three key components: its model multidisciplinary team approach to transplantation; its thorough and personalized medical evaluation process that includes searching for alternative treatments to transplantation; and its survival statistics, which are above national averages. The Transplantation Services also feature dedicated, HEPA-filtered surgery facilities and a continual commitment on the part of Tufts Medical Center's physicians and staff to keep both patients and their referring physicians informed and involved in the treatment process.