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UPMC Expertise, Partnership With Sicilian Region Leads to Completion of 3,000 Life-Saving Organ Transplants at UPMC-ISMETT in Italy

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Lisa Lombardo
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A press conference in Sicily with Italian officials commemorates the milestone achievement


PALERMO, Italy, March 4, 2024 UPMC-ISMETT, an international leader in organ transplantation, advanced cardiothoracic and abdominal surgery and highly specialized therapies, completed a milestone 3,000 organ transplants. This achievement is made possible by UPMC expertise that enhances access to life-saving transplants for people in Italy and countries across the Mediterranean.

Located in Palermo, Italy, UPMC-ISMETT is a high-specialty advanced tertiary hospital developed by UPMC in partnership with the government of Sicily to ensure that patients no longer need to travel outside of their region or country to receive advanced health care. It is a renowned public-private international partnership since 1997 and an institute for scientific-based care and research in the fields of end-stage organ failure, serving both adults and children.


Timeline for ISMETT Transplant ProgramThe 3,000th patient, an eight-year-old girl from Palermo, received a liver transplant through UPMC’s world-renowned living donor program. The patient suffered from citrullinemia type 1 (CTLN1) deficiency, a rare disease that can cause liver failure in severe form. The split-liver technique to save two or more patients with a single donor organ, used more than 200 times at UPMC-ISMETT, was successfully performed to save her life. 


“Since the beginning of our UPMC International division efforts more than 25 years ago, UPMC has focused on providing sustainable value and effective solutions to the patients and partners it serves,” said Joel Nelson, M.D., president, UPMC International. “Nowhere is that more evident than at UPMC-ISMETT, rated among the best in Italy and in Europe and regarded as a leader in living-donor transplants.”

Fact Sheet_ISMETT Transplants by the Numbers


    UPMC’s multinational reach allows for knowledge sharing and increased access to the lifesaving skills of renowned surgeons and researchers. Because of the partnership between UPMC and the Sicilian Region, UPMC-ISMETT has been recognized by the National Transplant Center in Italy as having the best survival rates in the country for its excellence and management of the most complex cases, including double lung transplants, emergency transplants, and combined transplants. 


    “We’re celebrating a significant milestone today, thanks to the collaboration between our dedicated team and the Sicilian Region,” said Angelo Luca, M.D., managing director, UPMC Italy. “Our teams’ constant commitment to providing high-quality, innovative techniques expands treatment options and brings solutions to many patients on the waiting list. This allows us to make a profound impact as a national and international point of reference in the field of transplants.”


    The transplant program at UPMC-ISMETT started in 1999 and has evolved to become a sought-after destination to treat adults and children from all around Europe and surrounding countries seeking these life-saving procedures. By the numbers, UPMC-ISMETT has performed:

    Angelo Luca MD UPMC Italy
    • 1,628 liver transplants — 311 from living donors
    • 854 kidney transplants — 289 from living donors
    • 222 lung transplants
    • 234 heart transplants
    • 5 pancreas transplants
    • 57 combination transplants — 30 liver-kidney, 2 liver-lung, 4 heart-kidney, 21 kidney-pancreas
    Renato Schifani_Sicily President 

    Of the 3,000 transplants: 342 were pediatric, approximately 300 were performed on people who live in other regions of Italy and approximately 150 were for people who live in nearby countries.

    The press event held in Palermo today included remarks from Dr. Luca and Italian officials to celebrate and recognize the life-changing care provided to people across the Mediterranean region. More than 200 people were in attendance, including former transplant patients and families.

    “I want to thank the surgeons, doctors and health care workers who honorably serve patients and families in this delicate sector,” said Renato Schifani, Sicily Region president. “I’m thankful that UPMC-ISMETT is by our side to provide this high-level care.”

    Video Thumbnail ISMETT 3000 Transplants

    Expert clinicians and researchers at UPMC-ISMETT continue to develop advanced programs and techniques to overcome the chronic shortage of organs, including:

    • A liver and lung regeneration and reconditioning program where advanced perfusion procedures regenerate organs from deceased donors that otherwise could not be transplanted or transported between distant countries due to ischemic damage.
    • Organ preservation from non-beating heart donors through ECMO, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, creating an “artificial lung” allowing transplantation of otherwise unusable organs.
    • Performing ABO incompatible kidney transplants through a specialized program for patients and donors with incompatible blood types.
    • The split-liver technique, performed to save the life of UPMC-ISMETT’s 3,000th transplant patient, divides the donated liver into two or more segments that can be transplanted into different recipients, increasing the number of lives saved through a single donor organ.

    These scientific discoveries and innovations, in combination with increasing awareness and prevalence of living donor transplants, position UPMC-ISMETT to continuously, significantly expand treatment options for people seeking organ transplants across the Mediterranean region.

    Photos (Click for hi-res version)
    First Photo
    Caption: UPMC-ISMETT transplants timeline.
    Credit: UPMC

    Second Photo:
    Caption: UPMC-ISMETT transplants by the numbers fact sheet.
    Credit: UPMC

    Third Photo:
    Caption: Angelo Luca, M.D., managing director of UPMC Italy
    Credit: UPMC

    Fourth Photo:
    Caption: Renato Schifani, President of Sicily
    Credit: UPMC