The VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS) provides Veterans with liver, kidney, and living donor kidney transplantation services. In addition, VAPHS is also a national referral center for small bowel transplants (SBT) and live donor liver transplants (LDLT).
The liver transplant program at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS) has been in continuous operation since its inception in 1989. The kidney program followed in 2002. At present time more than 1,000 liver transplants and over 680 kidney transplants have been performed, offering a success rate which meet or exceeds the national average.
In January 2004, VAPHS began the first independent, in-house VA transplant center in the country. This entailed VAPHS having its own United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) charter for liver and kidney transplants. VAPHS has a team of highly experienced and dedicated surgeons, physicians and staff to provide equitable, innovative, and high-quality care that is veteran-centric and often better than in the community.
- In general, liver transplantation is indicated for those suffering from irreversible liver dysfunction or the effects of liver dysfunction after alternative medical and surgical treatments have been utilized and where the benefits of transplantation out weight risk of alternative modalities.
- If you’re a Veteran living with a advanced liver disease or liver cancer, the VAPHS liver transplant program may be able to help you.
- VAPHS provides liver transplant services and surgery options to any Veteran who will benefit, including those with high medical complexity or challenging anatomy.
- Contact your primary care provider or GI/Hepatologist to find out if a referral to the VAPHS liver transplant program is right for you
- Treatment options for adults who have liver diseases or malignancies include:
- Liver transplantation
- Liver resection for cancer
- Bile duct resection
- Surgical and nonsurgical methods to reduce portal hypertension and variceal bleeding
- Management of hepatic malignancies:
- VAPHS provides comprehensive care in the management of hepatic malignancies including resection, ablation, localized chemotherapy, and systemic therapy.
- VAPHS also offers live donor liver transplant (LDLT) services in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC)
- Referral Process:
- How do I start the process?
- The request for transplant starts from the Veteran's primary VA medical center where the Veteran is enrolled. The Veteran’s primary VA physician will place a request for transplant evaluation. Then a transplant coordinator from your primary VA will ensure you complete the necessary tests to complete a referral packet. The referral packet is sent to the transplant center in Pittsburgh for review. If you are approved for evaluation for transplantation, you will receive a call from Pittsburgh VA to schedule your testing. Remember that you and your support person need to travel to Pittsburgh for an on-site evaluation.
- What happens during the evaluation in Pittsburgh?
- During your evaluation, you and your support person will receive transplant education, followed by clinic visits with all team members. You will also complete some blood work, urine tests, and some additional testing as needed. The week after your evaluation your case will be presented to the Pittsburgh VA selection committee, who will review all information gathered from tests, interviews, your medical history, and your physical exam to determine whether you are an acceptable candidate for transplant. The VAPHS transplant team will contact you by phone with the results of the selection committee and you will also receive a letter with the results.
- How do I start the process?
- More than 1 in 7 (15%) of US adults or 37 million people, are estimated to have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). As many as 9 in 10 adults with CKD do not know they have CKD.
- 1.45 million Americans are living with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). 64,000 people are diagnosed each year in the U.S. 2.1 million people in the U.S. are expected to have T1D by 2040. For many, transplant is a viable option for a better life.
- The VAPHS Kidney Transplant Program’s main goal is to improve the lives of Veterans who have kidney disease, problems from diabetes, or both.
- As one of the VA's most active and experienced transplant programs, we have vast experience in kidney transplantation.
- The VAPHS transplant team provides a patient-centered approach to care throughout the entire transplant process that guides and supports patients each step of the way.
- Contact your primary care provider or nephrologist to find out if a referral to the VAPHS kidney transplant program is right for you
- What to expect after your referral:
- Our team will review your history and prior testing to determine if you are a kidney transplant candidate.
- During your evaluation, you and your support person will receive transplant education, followed by clinic visits. You will meet with experienced medical and surgical transplant teams to discuss your disease, along with the short- and long-term details of transplantation.. You will also complete some blood work, urine tests, and some additional testing as needed.
- The week after your evaluation your case will be presented to the Pittsburgh VA multidisciplinary selection committee, who will review all information gathered from tests, interviews, your medical history, and your physical exam to determine whether you are an acceptable candidate for transplant. The Pittsburgh VA transplant team will contact you by phone with the results of the medical review board and you will also receive a letter with the results.
Click the link below to download a copy of the "After Your Kidney Transplant" post-operative guide.
Living Donor Kidney Transplant
- Candidates for kidney or liver transplantation often have a living relative, spouse, or close friend who is interested in donating a kidney or portion of their liver.
- VAPHS offers living donor kidney (LDK) transplantation in-house and collaborates with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) for live donor liver transplant (LDLT) services.
- A potential donor may be considered if the following criteria is met:
- At least 21 years of age
- Has a blood type (A, B, O, AB) that is compatible with the recipient's blood type
- After a compatible blood type is confirmed, other preliminary tests are performed
For more information about live donor kidney transplants, please contact the VAPHS living donor kidney coordinator at 412-360-6155.
Click the link below to download a copy of the "VA Kidney Donor" guidebook.
Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR):
For more information, please go to: https://www.srtr.org/.
PAVA is the center code for the VA Pittsburgh Transplant Program.
Donate Life – The Importance of Organ Donation:
- VAPHS Transplant Services honors those organ donors who have given the gift of life.
- The VAPHS transplant team has significant experience in offering advanced transplant options to their patients, including deceased-donor and living-donor transplants, to Veterans in need of an organ transplant.
- How to become an organ and tissue donor:
- LEARN MORE ABOUT ORGAN DONATION:
Helpful Transplant Websites:
- How organ offers are decided:
- National Kidney Foundation
- The United Network for Organ Sharing
- UNOS Kidney Paired Donation
- UNOS Transplant Living
- UNOS Patient Education Booklets
- National Living Donor Assistance Center