Eleven transplants performed in little over 48 hours, an extraordinary event at ISMETT, the transplant center established in Palermo thanks to an international partnership between the Region of Sicily and UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) in the scope of a framework agreement recently renewed by the Sicilian government. This is the highest number of transplants ever performed in such a short period of time in one center. A success that involved more than 80 professionals including doctors, nurses and healthcare operators for 48 consecutive hours. Also, the doctors of the critical care units involved and the staff of the Sicilian Regional Transplant Center (CRT) that coordinated the entire process were instrumental for this success. Overall five teams were involved. All five operating rooms at ISMETT were involved including the so-called Hybrid Room, a hi-tech OR realized using EU funds and normally used for interventional cardiology procedures. “I informed the [Italian] Minister of Health Roberto Speranza about what has just been accomplished by ISMETT in Palermo,” said Ruggero Razza, Regional Health Commissioner, “where clinical activity never stopped during the COVID-19 emergency. ISMETT confirms its commitment to excellence of which Sicilian healthcare should be proud of, especially at this time when recent issues may give rise to unpleasant stereotypes.”
More in detail, three liver transplants, five kidney transplants, one lung transplant, and one heart transplant were performed. In the same hours, the pediatric abdominal surgery team performed also a living-donor liver transplant on a 10-month-old baby, leading to a total of 11 transplants successfully performed at ISMETT.
“What just happened in Palermo,” said Dr. Angelo Luca, CEO of ISMETT, “is an extremely rare and exceptional occurrence. This is certainly a record for ISMETT, and probably also a record throughout Italy. This extraordinary effort in terms of organization and number of people involved, demonstrates the highest standards of quality and care reached by the Sicilian healthcare system, which is able to respond promptly to the needs of patients waiting for a transplant.”
A marathon session made possible thanks to a series of organ donations that took place over a few hours, which gave new hopes to 10 patients. Four of these donations took place in the Sicilian cities of Palermo, Catania and Agrigento, and two other in Grosseto and Livorno, in Tuscany. “This is an outstanding result achieved by ISMETT,” said Massimo Cardillo, Director of the Italian National Transplant Center, “and even more so now that transplants are resuming after the inevitable slowdown caused by the COVID-19 emergency. I want to congratulate ISMETT, which once again demonstrates its value, the Regional Transplant Center that coordinated four of the six organ donations that allowed these transplants, and the great commitment of all intensive care units and transplant coordinators. In recent months, the Sicilian Regional Health Commission has been strongly committed to supporting donations by focusing on a reorganization of the local network, which is finally relaunching its activity.”
All patients who received a deceased donor transplant are Sicilians. At the same time, a living-donor liver transplant was performed on a 10-month-old baby. The baby suffered since birth from biliary atresia, a disease that causes the obstruction of the biliary ducts eventually leading to end-stage liver failure. The baby had arrived in Palermo from the Region of Campania in extremely severe conditions, and the option of a living-donor transplant was immediately taken into consideration. To date, ISMETT is the most active center in the field of pediatric living-donor liver transplantation. The father and baby are doing well. The baby is still in the ICU at ISMETT, while the father has already been transferred to inpatient unit. “In over twenty years of partnership between the Sicilian Region and UPMC, ISMETT has reached important milestones in the field of transplantation, and not only,” said Dr. Bruno Gridelli, Vice President of UPMC and Country Manager of UPMC Italy. “These 11 transplants performed over a short period of time, and at such a difficult time for our country, are a further evidence of the value of a public-private partnership, which continues to bring Sicily to the highest levels of patient care, clinical research and, through the Ri.MED Foundation, of biomedical research.”