UPMC is nationally and internationally known for its leadership in the field of organ transplantation. Since 1981 when transplant pioneer Thomas Starzl, MD, PhD, performed the first liver transplant in Pittsburgh, more than 12,000 transplants — including more than 1,000 living donor transplants — have been performed at UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, distinguishing UPMC as one of the largest transplant centers in the world.
Many of the world's top transplantation surgeons and physicians have been trained at the University of Pittsburgh. UPMC has defined the field in many ways, from surgical technique and nursing care, to lifelong follow-up care. Further significant developments have advanced organ procurement and donation practices, while other advances may allow some patients to avoid transplantation altogether.
Access to transplant services has not been widely available in some parts of the world. To meet this need, in 1996, UPMC expanded its transplantation services internationally with the opening of the Istituto Mediterraneo per i Trapianti e Terapie ad Alta Specializzazione (ISMETT), in Palermo, Italy. This has allowed UPMC to provide world-class transplant services to the residents of the Mediterranean basin. ISMETT is considered an important step in building a “medical highway” exchanging physicians, nurses, and technicians between ISMETT and the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute in Pittsburgh.
ISMETT has grown into one of the leading organ transplant centers in Europe and has the highest one-year survival rate in Italy for liver transplant recipients.