ISMETT, a leading Italian transplant center managed by UPMC in Palermo, Italy, recently reached the milestone of transplanting 1,000 livers, saving the lives of both children and adults. Since performing their first liver transplant in 1999, ISMETT surgeons have transplanted 863 livers from deceased donors and 116 from living donors, as well as 21 lung-liver and kidney-liver combinations.
Despite the significant progress made toward encouraging organ donation in Italy, the gap between the need for organs and their availability remains a serious problem, particularly in Sicily where donation rates lag the national average. "At ISMETT, we are attempting to overcome this hurdle by using some of the most innovative transplantation techniques in the world," said Bruno Gridelli, MD, a transplant surgeon and chief executive officer of ISMETT, which is a public-private partnership between UPMC and the Region of Sicily.
These advanced procedures include the "split liver" technique, in which a cadaveric liver is divided between two recipients, usually an adult and a child, as well as donations from living donors, which often reduce the time recipients wait for transplants and improve outcomes. ISMETT is now the most experienced center for living-donor liver transplantation in Italy with patient outcomes that rank among the best nationally and internationally.
"We are continuing to strengthen our transplant programs by using less-invasive procedures for living-donor liver procurement and by adopting methods that will allow us to use organs previously deemed to be marginal. By doing so, we intend to widen access to this life-saving treatment," said Dr. Gridelli.
Ugo Palazzo, MD, chief of staff and one of the founders of ISMETT, recalled a meeting nearly 20 years ago in which an Italian liver specialist asked for UPMC's help in developing a transplant center in Palermo so that dozens of patients annually would not have to travel outside of Sicily for a transplant. "Today, this 1,000th transplant is testimony to the foresight of the region's medical and political leadership and to the importance of having a world-renowned partner in UPMC," he noted. Since 1981, UPMC has performed more than 17,000 organ transplants and developed some of the most extensive clinical expertise in the field, giving hope to patients in the U.S. and around the world.
Formally known as the Istituto Mediterraneo per i Trapianti e Terapie ad Alta Specializzazione, ISMETT has performed more than 1,600 transplants since it began operations in 1999 and tens of thousands of other high-specialty procedures, including cardiothoracic and cancer surgeries. An example of innovative and efficient clinical management, ISMETT is a public-private partnership between UPMC and the Region of Sicily, through ARNAS Civico hospital in Palermo. ISMETT is the only hospital in Italy designed and intended exclusively for solid organ transplantation and highly specialized therapies. It treats more than 30,000 patients a year with severe organ disease and recently was accredited for the third time by Joint Commission International, the organization that certifies the safety and quality of care provided to patients in hospitals around the world.