The University of Chicago Medicine is the only institution in the world that has performed two triple organ transplants simultaneously.

Federal statistics reveal that this is the first time a medical institution in the U.S. has done heart-liver-kidney transplants within 27 hours. Even though the team of surgeons had prepared for these procedures for over two months, they did not expect the two triple-organ transplants to occur almost simultaneously.

Complex Procedures And Time Sensitivity

"The element of time adds pressure to what we do because we have only about four to six hours once the heart leaves the donor, while the other organs can last a little longer," said Valluvan Jeevanandam, M.D. "A triple transplant magnifies the complexity and coordination of the process because the heart needs to go in first and be maintained while the other teams work to get the liver and then the kidney in."

With these transplants, Jeevanandam has now performed in all six of the UChicago Medicine's heart-liver-kidney surgeries. The heart procedure was followed by the liver transplant that was performed by Talia Baker, M.D., surgical and program director of the hospital's liver transplant program.

The last phase of the procedure gave patients new kidneys which were conducted by Yolanda Becker, MD, director of the kidney and pancreas program of the United Network for Organ Sharing.

The Real Heroes

Sarah McPharlin and Daru Smith, both 29 years old, received an organ match from a single deceased donor. Smith's surgery began on Dec. 19 at 3:07 p.m. and took 17 hours 11 minutes to conclude while McPharlin's surgery began at 6:04 p.m. on Dec. 20 and lasted for 20 hours 23 minutes.

Donors are the real heroes who have been able to consider a donation in their time of grief and give complete strangers a gift of life, Baker said.

Kevin Cmunt, the president and CEO of Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network, a not-for-profit organ procurement organization, explained that these exceptional transplant events create an unforgettable legacy for the donor and their families. They take pride in collaborating with institutes like UChicago Medicine that helps bring these gifts of donation to more families.

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