One Incredible Gift Changes the Lives of Many Families

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 6, 2016


Christine (left) became a living donor earlier this year to help people in kidney failure. Her kidney donation sparked a chain that resulted in dozens of transplants. Christine is pictured here with Henrietta (right), the final recipient in the chain.

In 2012, Christine Gentry, a high school teacher, was scrolling through Facebook and came across a post from an old friend. In the post, her friend, Julia, sadly announced that she was suffering from kidney failure and needed a kidney transplant. All of Julia’s family members had been tested, but none were suitable donors for her. Julia was sending a final plea.

Christine immediately contacted Julia and offered to help. After testing, Christine was told that she was not a direct match for Julia, but she was an ideal living kidney donor who may still be able to help Julia through a paired exchange donation. Read More »

Innovations in Organ and Tissue Transplantation

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 9, 2014

The face transplantation team worked for more than 20 hours to restore the face of Charla Nash.

In 2013, nearly 29,000 people received a second chance at life through the generosity of organ and tissue donors. Organ transplantation was made possible due to the pioneering work of Joseph E. Murray, MD, who performed the first successful human organ transplant in 1954 at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, which later became Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

Dr. Murray received a Nobel Prize in 1990, in recognition of his contributions to the field of organ transplantation, including the development of immunosuppressive therapy to reduce organ rejection. Since that time, transplant specialists at BWH have achieved more firsts in organ transplantation in New England, including multiple organ transplants on the same day from an individual donor and multiple transplants on the same day from multiple donors.

Recently, BWH physicians achieved another transplant milestone by completing composite tissue allograft transplantation. This procedure allows surgeons to take something as complex as a face or arm and transplant it. In 2009, surgeons at BWH performed the first full face transplant in the U.S.

In this video, Michael J. Zinner, MD, Chairman, Department of Surgery, and Bohdan Pomahac, MD, Director, Center for Facial Restoration and Director, Burn Center, discuss transplant innovations at BWH over the past 60 years and the future of organ and tissue transplantation.

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Pancreas Transplant – Short Trip to a Big Reward

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 22, 2013

Dr. Sayeed Malek (pictured) and Dr. Stefan Tullius performed the first pancreas transplant at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

In terms of physical distance, John McDermott, 62, didn’t have to venture very far to become the first pancreas transplant recipient at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

John was sitting at his desk at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he has worked as a pharmacist for more than 40 years, when he received the call in the spring of 2007 to come to BWH for a new pancreas. He could have hung up the phone and immediately walked to the BWH operating room across the street, but that would have led to many anxious hours waiting for his new pancreas and the surgical team to be ready. Instead, he drove a few miles to his home in the Savin Hill neighborhood of Dorchester to wait with his wife Chris and have a bite to eat before heading back to BWH.

He had a right to be anxious. He had been living with type 1 diabetes since he was 14 years old, and now he had the opportunity to eliminate a condition that not only reduced his quality of life, but was, in his case, also life threatening.

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Transplantation: A History and Future of Firsts

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 27, 2013

Many transplant milestones have taken place at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, including the world’s first successful human organ transplant, a kidney transplanted from one identical twin to another, in 1954. Since this groundbreaking start, our transplant programs have continued to build upon this innovative spirit. View the following infographic to learn more about our history of transplant innovation.
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Face Transplant Recipient Focuses on Her Gifts

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 2, 2013

Face transplant recipient Carmen Blandin Tarleton embraces her donor's daughter, Marinda Righter.

Recent events have made us grimly aware of the intense suffering that just a few people can cause. But in the wake of such tragedies, we also have seen the other side – the eagerness of neighbors, friends, and strangers to help as best they can.

Carmen Blandin Tarleton, a 44-year-old registered nurse and mother of two from Thetford, Vermont, has experienced both extremes first hand, but her heart is now focused on what she has been given, not what has been taken away.

On June 10, 2007, Carmen’s estranged husband doused her with industrial-strength lye and beat her. Over 80 percent of Carmen’s body was severely burned. Despite the subsequent efforts of 55 surgeries over five years, including 38 during a three-month period immediately after the attack, Carmen remained in pain, severely disfigured, and legally blind. She also suffered from uncontrolled drooling and an inability to rotate her neck.

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Thank You, Dr. Murray

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 19, 2012

Pamela and Patrick, parents of Alanna (donor) and Ryan (recipient), with their transplant surgeon, Dr. Craig Lillehei, at Boston Children's Hospital last year.

Dr. Joseph Murray, who received the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology in 1990 for his contributions to the field of human organ transplantation, passed away on November 26, 2012. He was 93 years old. A gifted surgeon, brilliant scientist, and devoted teacher, Dr. Murray and his team completed the first successful human organ transplant at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in 1954, helping to forge the path for a new field in medicine that has since saved countless lives. Dr. Murray’s work has special meaning for a member of the BWH Marketing team, who shared her story.

When I first starting working at BWH, I was on my way to a meeting when I came across the display about Dr. Joseph E. Murray. I’d long been aware of his pioneering work in kidney transplants, but standing there reading about it and seeing his Nobel  medal in person was quite a moving experience for me.

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Arm Transplant Candidate Is Eager to Embrace Life

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 13, 2012

Arm Transplant Katy Hayes

Arm transplant candidate Katy Hayes, 44, looks forward to having new arms to hold her husband and children.

Katy Hayes of Kingwood, TX, wants to be a pioneer. Wearing a broad smile, she talks about her wish to become the first person in the country to receive an above-the-elbow double arm transplant and her eagerness to grasp the opportunities that such an innovative surgery would bring.

Katy, 44, became a quadruple amputee in 2010. After giving birth to her third child, she developed a life-threatening streptococcal A infection that required surgeons to amputate her arms above the elbows and her legs above the knees.

Katy has since recovered well and maintained an optimistic attitude, but feels that she won’t be content until she has natural limbs once again. She gamely tried using artificial prosthetics, but they left her uncomfortable and unsatisfied. Not only did they prove to be unwieldy when trying to perform basic hygiene tasks and cause her body to overheat under the Texas sun, but they also failed to provide something particularly important for a woman who practiced massage therapy for more than 17 years – a sense of touch.

That opportunity, however, is now within reach. After completing a thorough medical and psychological evaluation process over the course of several months at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Katy was approved this week as a candidate for a bilateral (double) arm transplant. The next key step, which has already begun, is to work with the New England Organ Bank (NEOB) to identify a suitable donor.

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Transplants: Using Age to Improve Success

Posted by Blog Administrator April 25, 2012


Toshiko Linton

Kidney transplant recipient Toshiko Linton (right), with Surgical Director Stefan Tullius (left)

Dr. Stefan Tullius, Chief of the Division of Transplant Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), believes that recent BWH research could provide the impetus for a major change in how organ donors and recipients are matched, and that being older, at least for transplant recipients, can indeed be better.

A team of researchers from BWH Transplant Surgery and Renal Medicine analyzed data from more than 100,000 patients who received kidney transplants between 1995 and 2008 to find that matching donor and recipient age significantly improves outcomes. Tullius, who led the study, is optimistic that this finding could ultimately lead to an improved donor matching process.

“Right now, 70-year-old patients are competing with 20-year-old patients for the same organs,” Tullius said. “Our research supports a proposal to change the way that we allocate donor organs. We’ve found that when the donor and recipient are more closely matched in age, we are using each organ in the most efficient and best way.”

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