July 15, 2011
On Wednesday, a United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) committee cleared UPMC to restart its live-donor kidney and liver transplant programs. The announcement comes more than two months after UPMC voluntarily suspended the programs after surgeons there transplanted a kidney from a hepatitis C-infected donor. Children's Hospital, which relies mostly on adult donors, also will resume its live-donor kidney transplant program immediately.
Dr. Abhi Humar, chief of transplantation at UPMC's Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, said UNOS reviewers concluded human error was responsible for the oversight. "It's obviously something that we would not have liked to happen," he said. "I think ultimately we accept responsibility as a team. It was an error of the team."
A nurse who was suspended and a surgeon who was demoted in the aftermath are back at work, said hospital spokesperson Jennifer Yates, though the surgeon remains demoted.
UPMC has one of the country's best-known transplant programs. In 2010, UPMC surgeons performed 62 live-donor kidney transplants out of a total of 152 kidney transplants, UNOS data show. When UPMC moved to suspend the programs on May 9, some patients sought treatment elsewhere.
UPMC officials have not yet received a final report from UNOS' membership and professional standards committee. And UNOS officials, who reviewed the programs in May, could likely conduct additional, unscheduled evaluations, said Humar.
In addition, UPMC will submit to the state Health Department a corrective plan to address concerns. "We now have multiple folds of redundancy built into the system to pick up these issues and problems," said Humar. The Health Department will continue to monitor UPMC through its normal procedures.