People and Places

Fall 2019/Winter 2020 Issue

people and placesYale New Haven Hospital’s Transplant Surgery APRN Joynell Mirasol (pictured left) received the ASTS APP Certificate of Educational Achievement “Joy is one of very few APPs in the country to have completed the ASTS certificate program,” said David Mulligan, MD, Chief of Transplantation and Immunology at Yale University School of Medicine.

Surgeons at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston performed the first full face transplant on an African American patient. 68-year-old Robert Chelsea was the recipient and became the ninth person at the Brigham, the 15th person in the United States, and the oldest person to undergo the procedure. The 16-hour surgery took place in July and involved a team of more than 45 physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists, residents, and research fellows. According to the team, Mr. Chelsea is "progressing and recovering remarkably fast."

Read the Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s press release on the surgery.

In August, surgeons at Cleveland Clinic performed the Midwest’s first purely laparoscopic living donor surgery for liver transplantation in an adult recipient. The advanced procedure is available at only a few hospitals worldwide, and Cleveland Clinic is the second U.S. academic medical center to offer this approach for living donor liver transplantation.Cleveland Clinic

Choon Hyuck David Kwon, MD, PhD, Director of Laparoscopic Liver Surgery at Cleveland Clinic’s Digestive Disease & Surgery Institute, led a team of surgeons and nurses during the minimally invasive procedure that extracted a third of the liver from a 29-year-old living donor. Koji Hashimoto, MD, PhD, the Clinic’s Director of Living Donor Liver Transplantation, and his team received the donated segment of the liver and performed the transplant in a 66-year-old recipient.

“With the laparoscopic technique, the donor gets the benefits of minimally invasive surgery, resulting in shorter postoperative recovery time, less pain, better cosmetic results, and lower risk of an incisional hernia,” said Dr. Kwon.

Since the surgery, the Clinic has successfully performed the purely laparoscopic procedure on four more living liver donors.

Tower Health announced in September that a new Tower Health Transplant Institute has been created and will become the new home for the nationally recognized kidney and liver transplant program formerly located at Hahnemann University Hospital.

Hahnemann’s transplant program team of renowned surgeons, hepatologists, and nephrologists have joined the Tower Health Medical Group and will serve West Reading and Philadelphia. The transplant team surgeons – who have performed more than 3,000 organ transplants – will perform kidney and liver transplants at the Reading Hospital HealthPlex. The team includes David J. Reich, MD, Medical Director of the Tower Health Transplant Institute and Professor of Surgery at Drexel University College of Medicine. Dr. Reich said, “our entire group is delighted to remain a team and to join the preeminent Tower Health system that is setting national standards for healthcare quality and patient satisfaction. We are deeply committed to excellence in clinical care, improving access to transplant services, and to the expanding academic mission of Tower Health."

Pending approval by UNOS, transplants could begin by the end of 2019.

Spring 2019 Issue

Jayme E. Locke, MD, MPH, has been named director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Transplant Institute. She serves as an associate professor in the Division of Transplantation; director of both the Incompatible Kidney Transplant Program and the Transplant Analytics, Informatics and Quality program; vice chair of Outcomes and Health Services Research in the Department of Surgery; and associate chief medical officer for Inpatient Quality and Patient Safety at UAB Hospital.

Shortly before his death in March Oscar Salvatierra, Jr., MD, was announced as the recipient of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award given by the International Pediatric Transplant Association, a Section of The Transplantation Society. He was recognized at the 10th IPTA Congress in Vancouver, BC, Canada, in May 2019.

James F. Burdick, MD, is profiled in the American Medical Association “Members Move Medicine” campaign and discusses his career as a transplant surgeon. 

Ashley Morgan has been promoted to Managing Editor of the American Journal of Transplantation. She has been with AJT since 2014, when she started as Editorial Assistant. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City with a master’s in English with an emphasis in writing poetry. Before joining the AJT team, Ashley edited advertising websites. When not assisting authors and editors, Ashley can usually be found with a book or a craft project in hand and a cat at her side. She’s very excited about this new opportunity as Managing Editor. 

thumbnailStuart W. Jamieson, MB, FRCS, has written “Close to the Sun: The Journey of a Pioneer Heart Surgeon,&rdquo in which he recounts the early days of heart transplant from the perspective of the research labs and operating rooms where it was being refined. More than just an autobiography or a history, Close to the Sun portrays how medical science advances. It examines the ingredients of medical breakthroughs: painstaking research punctuated by dramatic new insights and the difficult, often split-second, ethical decisions in employing experimental procedures made as patients’ medical conditions teeter. To learn more or order:

“A literary spellbinder that has important implications in geopolitics as well as medical science.” – Thomas E. Starzl, MD, PhD

Matthew Cooper, MD, will be presented with the National Kidney Foundation's first ever award for Excellence in Kidney Transplantation. He is a professor of surgery at Georgetown University School of Medicine and the director of kidney and pancreas transplantation at the Medstar Georgetown Transplant Institute. “We are so pleased to bestow Dr. Cooper with the National Kidney Foundation’s first award in kidney transplantation,” said NKF President Dr. Holly Kramer in a press release. “His work and extensive commitment to helping kidney patients leads to increased transplants, fewer people on dialysis and lives saved.”

In 2018 Gift of Life Donor Program led the U.S. for the 11th consecutive year in coordinating the most life-saving organs for transplant among all 58 U.S. organ procurement organizations (OPOs). In addition, Gift of Life broke two national records in 2018 by achieving the highest totals ever recorded for organ donors (615) and transplants (1,671) for a U.S.-based OPO in a single year.

Staff News

thumbnail ASTS welcomes Jennifer Taylor as the new Member Engagement Assistant. She has a background in health communications and public policy, with internships at the Office of the Ohio Inspector General, Alliance for Justice, and Senator Sherrod Brown’s office. She also worked as Communications Assistant at the National Partnership for Women & Families and as a field organizer for the Ohio Democratic Party. Jen will be working with membership, journal subscriptions, social media, and emails to members, and will support several committees. In her free time, Jen enjoys re-watching Friends on Netflix and eating as much pizza and sushi as possible.

ASTS congratulates Diane L. Mossholder, MA, CAE, for being named one of the 2019 Association Innovators by DCA Live

Fall 2018/Winter 2019 Issue

Francisco G. Cigarroa, MD, professor of pediatric and transplant surgery at UT Health San Antonio, received the American Medical Association Foundation Award for Health Education on November 10 at the AMA Interim Meeting. The award recognizes the exemplary work of physicians who have made impactful contributions to the field of medical education.

Shujun Li, MD, has been presented the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award by Marquis Who's Who, the world's premier publisher of biographical profiles. Dr. Li has worked at the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center as an associate professor since 1996.

UHhospitals 50th anniversaryUniversity Hospitals celebrated the 50th anniversary of its transplant program, during which it has performed nearly 4,000 transplants. In 2017, 132 solid organs were transplanted through the UH Transplant Institute. More than 700 people -- including more than 400 organ recipients – gathered at First Energy Stadium to celebrate this 50-year streak of success.

UHhospitals anniversary cakeSurgeons at UH performed the first experimental kidney transplant in July 1958, although that patient lived just eight days. In December 1968, UH surgeons performed their first successful kidney transplant with an organ from a deceased donor. Two years later, UH saw its first kidney transplant with a living donor. Other milestones followed, with the first kidney-pancreas transplant in 1986, the first heart transplant in 1988, the first isolated pancreas transplant in 1988, the first liver transplant in 1989, the first heart-lung transplant in 1992, and the first lung-only transplant in 1999.

When Death Becomes Life bookJoshua D. Mezrich, MD (Associate Professor of Surgery in the division of multi-organ transplantation at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health), is the author of the upcoming book When Death Becomes Life, which goes on sale January 15, 2019 from HarperCollins. This book—part memoir, part history—is a fascinating look at the world of transplant surgery which combines a thrilling examination of medical advances with remarkable and intimate stories about Mezrich’s patients. This exceptional work of death and life takes its place besides Atul Gawande’s Complications, Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies, and Jerome Groopman’s How Doctors Think. When Death Becomes Life is available for pre-order now:

“In this highly accessible look into the world of modern transplantation, Dr. Mezrich proves himself to have innate creativity, conveying a surgeon’s genuine emotion without becoming maudlin and portraying both the triumphs and failures of the transplant field. With When Death Becomes Life, Mezrich succeeds in giving the reader a glimpse of how a cacophony of human experience can become a harmonious triumph of medical science.”- Allan D. Kirk, MD, PhD, Chairman of Surgery, Duke University and Editor-in-Chief, American Journal of Transplantation

Staff News

ASTS Executive Director Kim Gifford has announced that she will be joining her husband in retirement in early 2019. A search for her successor is underway, and the position description is posted on She has been with ASTS for over 13 years and served as Executive Director for more than 7 of them. During her tenure, ASTS has seen enormous growth in its educational and training efforts, including the establishment of the Transplant Accreditation and Certification Council. She will be much missed!

ASTS staff at GeorgetownIn September, ASTS staff members Laurie Kulikosky, Ellie Proffitt, Jill-Morgan Aubert, and Sofie Epshtein were able to observe kidney donor and recipient surgeries at Medstar Georgetown Transplant Institute. Thanks to the transplant team for making them welcome!