Established in 1981, UPMC Transplant Services has performed more than 20,000 transplants, including:

  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Pancreas
  • Small bowel
  • Liver/small bowel
  • Heart
  • Heart/lung
  • Double- and single-lung
  • Multiple organs

As the program celebrates 40 years of transplant leadership, let’s take a look back at the dedicated work of the early pioneers, the comprehensive level of care provided by our transplant experts, and the innovative research helping to successfully treat patients with end-stage organ failure.

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Transplant Pioneers

Thomas E. Starzl, MD brought years of expertise in the field of liver transplantation when he arrived at UPMC in 1981. He also brought groundbreaking research that led to the development of drugs to prevent organ rejection.

In the years that followed, UPMC was responsible for several major milestones and historical “firsts.”

  • 1983: First multi-organ (intestine, liver, pancreas, spleen) transplant performed at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
  • 1984: World’s first heart-liver transplant at Children’s.
  • 1985: UPMC’s first single-lung transplant.
  • 1988: UPMC’s first double-lung transplant.
  • 1989: World’s first heart-liver-kidney transplant performed at UPMC.
  • 1996: Children’s creates the nation’s first pediatric intestinal care center.
  • 1997: Children’s performs the first living-donor liver transplant.
  • 2000: UPMC’s first implantation of a left ventricular assist device (LVAD).
  • 2008: UPMC performs its 500th intestinal transplant.
  • 2008: UPMC’s first kidney transplant exchange involving four patients.
  • 2010: Children’s performs the world’s first pediatric VAD transport by air for a child in heart failure.
  • 2011: UPMC completes its 3,000th cardiothoracic transplant.
  • 2011: Children’s performs its first hepatocyte transplant.
  • 2013: UPMC surgeons perform the nation’s first female double-hand transplant.

Transplant Expertise

Today, UPMC is one of the leading transplant centers in the country. From exploring the mechanisms of rejection to finding ways to expand the number of organs suitable for donation, our team is dedicated to providing life-saving transplant options to all patients who may benefit — even if they are considered high-risk.

Experts from the UPMC Lung Transplant Program take on many complex cases which other centers may decline, and continued to provide safe and essential surgeries throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. UPMC’s Heart Transplant Program is one of only a few with some donor heart recipients living 30 years or more after the procedure.

As one of the most experienced living donor transplant programs in the country, we are committed to reducing waiting list deaths through our robust living-donor kidney and living-donor liver transplant programs.

UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh established the nation’s first pediatric transplant center in 1981. Doctors there have performed more transplants than any other center while discovering new treatment methods to improve long-term survival and quality of life for pediatric transplant recipients.

For the past 40 years, UPMC has been here for patients throughout every step of their transplant journey — from first consultation to surgery to post-transplant care. And with a mission to train and educate the next generation of the world’s leading transplant experts, it’s safe to say that commitment to excellence will continue well into the future.

About Transplant Services

Established in 1981, UPMC Transplant Services is one of the foremost organ transplant centers in the world. Our clinicians have performed more than 20,000 organ transplant procedures, including liver, kidney, pancreas, single and double lung, heart, and more. We are home to some of the world’s foremost transplant experts and have a long history of developing new antirejection therapies—so organ recipients can enjoy better health with fewer restrictions.