MAYWOOD, Ill. – From the world’s first successful kidney transplant to the first successful heart transplant ever performed in Illinois, Loyola University Health System (LUHS) has always been a pioneer in organ transplant research, education and clinical care.
Loyola has again added to that legacy with the creation of a new center that melds the resources of its transplant research initiatives and its solid-organ transplant programs into one unit dedicated to discovering the innovative treatments of the future and improving the care of patients.
“The Transplant Center brings together the research and teaching resources of our medical school, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, with our clinical expertise in Loyola University Medical Center,” said transplant surgeon Dr. Robert Love, director of the center. “Our plan is to focus the talents we have here in research, surgery, medicine and nursing care towards the goal of saving lives through organ transplantation.”
Solid-organ transplantation has a long history at Loyola. In 1950, Stritch School of Medicine faculty member Dr. Richard Lawler performed the world’s first successful kidney transplant at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, Ill. In 1984, a suburban Chicago man became the first patient to receive a heart transplant in Illinois, establishing the program. In 1971, Loyola began its kidney program, followed by its lung program in 1988 and liver program in 1997.
“In the treatment of end-stage organ failure, we have a great heritage of healing that’s pretty well-known nationally and around the world,” said Dr. Paul K. Whelton, president and CEO of LUHS. “The center's primary mission is to advance the science of transplantation in the areas of clinical patient care, medical education and research.”
The administration of a transplant program is extremely demanding and time-consuming due to the complex administrative, regulatory, financial and clinical operations involved. By merging the administrative functions of each of Loyola’s solid-organ transplant programs, the center improves communication and collaboration, streamlines resource sharing and increases overall efficiency across the board.
“Prior to the formation of the center, each of our transplant programs for the most part operated independently of each other,” said David Brady, administrator of the center. “This new center allows us to standardize across programs and, as a result, deliver the best available care to our patients that will only improve in the years to come.”
More people are surviving end-stage organ disease than ever before due to research that has helped improve and increase treatment options. At Loyola, short- and long-term survivals, as well as low rejection rates, in adults and pediatric transplant patients, are among the best in the United States, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees the nation’s organ donation program.
However, the combination of a larger, aging population and higher incidence of chronic organ disease is driving an increase in demand for transplantation. Transplant patients are expected to be older and sicker due to chronic diseases and medical advances and lifestyle changes that will lead to longer lives. To respond to those realities, the center will place an emphasis on research that increases the number of organs available for transplants and therapies that extend and improve the quality of life of all patients.
“We plan to grow steadily every year over the next five years and achieve excellent clinical results as we go along,” Love said. “Everything we do will be aligned with our core, which is always trying to do our best with each individual patient.”
Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus, Loyola University Hospital, is a 569-licensed-bed facility. It houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 264-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.