The American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS) is deeply saddened by the passing of ASTS member Khalid Khwaja, MD, in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, on August 23, 2020. He was 52.
Dr. Khwaja was born in the United Kingdom and graduated from Aga Khan University Medical College in Pakistan, later pursuing advanced medical studies in the United States. He completed a residency in general surgery and a research fellowship at the University of Connecticut, where he received multiple teaching awards, and subsequently pursued a fellowship in transplantation at the University of Minnesota.
In 2003, Dr. Khwaja was recruited to join the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Transplant Institute to focus on liver, kidney, and pancreatic transplantation. He re-established the pancreatic transplantation program at BIDMC, growing it to become the largest in New England. Dr. Khwaja joined the Lahey Clinic as Director of Kidney Transplantation in 2008 before rejoining BIDMC in 2012 as Surgical Director of Solid Organ Transplantation. During the past eight years, Dr. Khwaja, together with his colleagues at BIDMC, worked tirelessly to support the growth and development of a thriving clinical program, providing complex care of the highest quality to the sickest of patients.
In his roles as both Acting Chief and Senior Clinical Director of the program at BIDMC, Dr. Khwaja mentored, innovated, and supported those around him as a thoughtful, soft-spoken, and respectful leader. Dr. Khwaja performed the majority of complex liver surgery at BIDMC, was critical to the successful re-initiation of the Living Related Liver Transplant Program, and was committed to collaborating with others in adopting the most innovative techniques to perform complicated hepatobiliary surgery safely and effectively.
Throughout his career, Dr. Khwaja was an inspiring educator of medical students, surgical residents, and fellows. His remarkable mentorship extended from intra-operative tutelage to bedside teaching and casebook mentorship of Harvard medical students. He was a regular participant in mock oral examinations for our residents and medical students, and developed teaching modules for the surgical aspects of pancreas transplantation for ASTS, which are now used by trainees nationally and internationally. He lectured extensively on all aspects of abdominal organ transplantation to a wide audience of physicians and health practitioners who were privileged to benefit from his deep clinical expertise.
Dr. Khwaja’s research interests focused on post-transplant immunosuppression and transplant outcomes. He was actively involved in early pioneering studies of steroid-free immunosuppression after kidney transplantation and served as an investigator in multiple funded trials of post-transplant immunosuppression and therapies. He formulated and implemented steroid-free immunosuppression protocols after kidney and pancreas transplantation at BIDMC, the first center in New England to adopt this practice. Currently, 30-50% of programs across the country have adopted similar protocols.
Dr. Khwaja served in multiple leadership roles at transplantation organizations. He served on the ASTS Fellowship Training Committee, chaired the Pancreas Transplant Oversight Committee of UNOS Region 1, and was a member of both the Clinical Policy Board of the New England Organ Bank and the New England Renal Transplant Oversight Committee for UNOS.
Dr. Khwaja is survived by his two children, Natasha and Yusuf, partner Amanda Reid, mother, brother, and many other family members. The namlaaz-e-Janazah (Muslim funeral prayer) and funeral service will be held outdoors at the Garden of Gethsamane and will also be livestreamed on Zoom. Date and details are to follow but will likely be early afternoon Wednesday or Thursday.