UF&Shands reactivates pancreas transplant program

The pancreas transplant program at UF&Shands, the University of Florida Academic Health Center, is again open and accepting patients.

The United Network for Organ Sharing, the nation’s official organ donation and transplant oversight organization, approved the program’s reactivation on Oct. 22.

UF&Shands voluntarily suspended its adult and pediatric liver transplant programs and pancreas transplant program in August 2011 after several key surgeons were recruited by medical centers in larger cities. The institution’s other organ transplant programs were not affected and remained operational. The liver transplant programs became active again in April.

The pancreas transplant programs’ reactivation follows the addition this summer of two surgeons to the UF College of Medicine’s department of surgery: Kenneth Andreoni, M.D., the pancreas transplant program’s lead surgeon and an associate professor, and Brendan Boland, M.D., an assistant professor.

"We are delighted to reactivate our pancreas transplant program," said Kevin Behrns, M.D., chairman of the department. "We look forward to providing high-quality care to patients that need this service. We appreciate the support of our patients and the dedication of our staff and colleagues who have made this transition possible."

Andreoni came to UF from The Ohio State University, where he worked as an associate professor of surgery in the division of abdominal transplantation. He also is chairman of the membership and professional standards committee of the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS. Boland previously worked at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center as a liver transplant and hepatobiliary surgeon and an assistant professor.

Pancreas transplants should recommence promptly now that additional faculty members are in place and the program is officially reactivated, said Michael Good, M.D., dean of the UF College of Medicine.

"As we resume pancreas transplantation, we are working to ensure a smooth, quick transition process for our patients, their families and everyone involved," he said.Tim Goldfarb, chief executive officer of Shands, praised employees who continued working with patients while the program was inactive.

"Our Shands abdominal transplant coordinators worked tirelessly to make sure our patients and their families experienced a seamless transition and received great personal support and care throughout this hiatus," Goldfarb said. "As a result, many of the patients still awaiting pancreas and pancreas-kidney transplants have communicated their wishes to return to Shands for transplant care now that we have reactivated the program."

Even while the pancreas transplant program was inactive, UF&Shands continued to provide post-transplant care for patients. Transplant teams are now working to assist patients awaiting pancreas and pancreas-kidney transplants — typically performed on patients who suffer kidney failure due to Type 1 diabetes — who want to resume care at UF&Shands.

Jeffrey Fair, M.D., chief of the department of surgery’s division of transplantation, highlighted the program’s collaboration with providers from varied areas of health care as one of its greatest strengths.

"It dovetails with the kidney transplant program, as well as diabetes management programs," he said. "That’s just strength of a solid, committed academic health care system with transplant programs within it."

Fair, a nationally renowned liver, kidney and pancreas transplant surgeon, joined UF&Shands in March from Cedars-Sinai Medical center in Los Angeles. His leadership has been essential to restarting the liver and pancreas transplant programs. In addition to Fair, Andreoni and Boland, Ivan Zendejas, M.D., an assistant professor of surgery, also performs abdominal organ transplants. Shehzad Rehman, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine in the division of nephrology, hypertension and renal transplantation, is medical director of kidney and pancreas-kidney transplantation.

David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., UF’s senior vice president for health affairs and president of UF&Shands, emphasized that everyone involved in making transplantation possible — whether as a patient or as a health professional — plays a vital role.

"Transplant teams comprise expert interdisciplinary medical and surgical faculty and staff, along with non-clinical coordinators and staff who are dedicated to supporting patients through the transplant journey," he said. "On behalf of our heroic organ donors and their families, we are honored to help give patients the gift of life."

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Laura Mize

Science Writer

Before joining the HSC News and Communications staff, Laura worked as a reporter for the Palm Beach Post in West Palm Beach, Florida, writing crime and general news stories, as...Read More