MAYWOOD, Ill. -- A nationally renowned transplant surgeon is the new chief of the Intra-Abdominal Transplant Surgery Division at Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Ill.
Dr. Howard Sankary, professor of surgery, department of surgery, Loyola University Chicago Stritch of Medicine, Maywood, Ill., was recruited to Loyola from the University of Illinois Medical Center where he was for the past six years and served as its surgical director of liver transplantation.
Sankary replaces Dr. John Brems, professor of surgery, intra-abdominal transplant surgery, Stritch School of Medicine, who stepped down to focus on pancreatic and hepatobilary cancer.
"We're very pleased that Dr. Sankary has agreed to lead Loyola's liver transplantation program," said Dr. Richard Gamelli, chairman of the department of surgery, Stritch School of Medicine. "We have no doubts that his clinical and academic expertise and experience will greatly benefit our patients, Loyola University Hospital and the Stritch School of Medicine."
Sankary said he hopes to strengthen Loyola's liver transplant team by capitalizing on its excellent facilities, its extensive network of primary care sites located throughout the Chicago area and its excellent experience clinical faculty.
"It's a strong program with an excellent, multidisciplinary team of health-care professionals who provide great long-term outcomes for patients," said Sankary, who has performed more than 800 liver transplants during the span of his 24-year career. "I think we have the opportunity to build it into one of the premier programs in the Midwest, if not the nation, in terms of volume without sacrificing quality."
Loyola has been performing liver transplants since 1997. It has the top-one year patient survival rate for liver transplantation in Chicago and is above the national average, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, the non-profit organization, scientific and education organization that maintains the waiting list for organ transplants in the United States.
"Our success in liver transplantation mirrors our success in taking care of patients with complicated liver diseases such as bile duct disorders and liver cancer," Brems said. "The experience Dr. Sankary brings to our program will help us to enhance our department's ability to be that much more proficient in taking care of our patients."
Sankary said he also plans to concentrate on bolstering the kidney transplant program, which has performed more than 1,000 kidney transplants since its inception in 1971. The biggest challenge facing patients with end-stage renal disease is inadequate donor availability. Sankary plans to improve availability by adopting desensitization protocols that would allow his division to:
* More rapidly transplant patients who are sensitized from previous transplants or blood transfusions
* Perform kidney transplants in patients who have developed antibodies against their donors
* Perform transplants when donor and recipient have different blood types.
Sankary added that he wants his division to also take advantage of paired donation, a procedure in which an incompatible donor and recipient are matched with another incompatible donor/recipient pair and the kidneys are exchanged between the pairs.
"I'm genuinely pleased to have the chance to work with a person with the vision of Dr. Sankary," said Dr. David Holt, associate professor of surgery, intra-abdominal transplant surgery, Stritch School of Medicine. "His addition to our staff has given a lift to our program, which has saved and greatly improved the lives of hundreds of people throughout the years."
Sankary has made numerous presentations, published more than 120 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and co-authored six books. He is also a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and member of more than 10 professional medical societies.
"Dr. Sankary is an immensely talented surgeon that we were fortunate to be able to recruit to Loyola," said Dr. Robert C. Flanigan, chair of the Department of Urology, Stritch School of Medicine. "I am confident that he will enhance our ability to continue helping our patients to enjoy happy and more productive lives."
Sankary said he also wants to work with the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital to make it easier for area veterans who need liver transplants to have their procedures done at Loyola, which is adjacent to the VA facility. Currently, such patients have to travel as far away as Pittsburgh and North Carolina.
"Imagine if you have a relative who needed a liver transplant and you have a job here. Are you going to quit for six months? I don’t think that’s an option that most people would have," Sankary said. "It's a real imposition for the family. It disrupts life for the whole family."
In 1979, Sankary received his medical degree from Bowman Gray School of Medicine (now the Wake Forest University School of Medicine) in Winston-Salem, N.C. He completed a general surgery residency in 1984 and a research fellowship in gastrointestinal surgery in 1985, both at the University of California in Irvine, Calif.
In 1987, Sankary completed a transplant fellowship at the Rush Medical College, Chicago. He went to work in the department of surgery at Rush in 1985 where he eventually became surgical director of the liver transplantation program. In 2002, he joined the University of Illinois Medical Center.