UF Health Abdominal Transplant Program leverages skill, multidisciplinary approach to achieve top outcomes

As of July 2023, the UF Health liver transplant program and kidney transplant patient outcomes have reached No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation, respectively, as evaluated by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, or SRTR.

Thanks to the leadership of Thiago Beduschi, M.D.; Georgios Vrakas, M.D., Ph.D.; and Ashraf El-Hinnawi, M.D., the programs have cared for patients from all over the country, with some traveling from across the country to receive care at UF Health.

SRTR data points are a testament to the quality of the care physicians provide. Often, they are a direct result of the commitment physicians make to put their patients first.

The liver transplant program, directed by Thiago Beduschi, M.D., was No. 1 in the country based on metrics of 1-year patient survival rates (99.03%), time to transplant, and waitlist survival, outstripping 149 other transplant programs. Specifically, the transplant rate and median time to transplant (a median wait period of six weeks) were the best in Florida and the United States.

“It is my goal to create an abdominal transplant center that patients from across the country trust to take the best care of them,” Beduschi said. “I am grateful to be in a place where my colleagues and institution are committed to this shared goal.”

Beduschi and his team have perfected pre- and post-transplant treatment plans for a variety of end- stage liver disease patients, honing their technique through volume as one of the nation’s top five busiest programs, with more than 90 transplants performed in CY2023. To date, the program has performed more than 2,300 liver transplants — taking on some of the most complex cases, like patients transferred directly from another facility’s ICU.

At 95.86%, SRTR data evaluations established the kidney transplant program’s 1-year adult transplant survival rate as the best in Florida and second in the nation among 256 centers. Notably, the program follows its patients for the entirety of their lives post-transplant — providing support and care to ensure the patient flourishes beyond surgical recovery.

“We’ve worked very hard to get our kidney transplant program to a level that is exceptional,” said Georgios Vrakas, M.D., Ph.D., director of the UF Health Adult Kidney and Pancreas Program. “Part of that has been ensuring the quality of each transplant we do, so that each of our patients can hope to see an extended length and quality of life.”

Keeping the patient at the forefront of the mission has always been the goal, said Ashraf M. El-Hinnawi, M.D., director of living donation and associate director of the UF Health Adult Kidney and Pancreas Transplant program.

“When we transplant a patient, we are part of a miracle. It is a privilege to work with a team that understands this, and puts the work in to make each procedure happen safely, and with care for even the most complex cases,” he said. “Now, we are focusing on creating a robust living living donor program that yields patients even better results.”

The abdominal transplant program is further buoyed by its multiorgan surgeries. According to SRTR, the kidney-pancreas transplant program was also nationally recognized, with the third-highest metrics in waitlist survival, time to transplant and one-year organ survival.

Now, the focus is on growing the team and resources — so even more patients can get back to living their lives.

“Our transplant team members and staff want to see every patient that comes through our doors leave with a new lease on life,” Beduschi said. “I am grateful to dedicate my life to this work, and I can’t wait to see what we can do next.”