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Intermountain Health performed a record 300 adult transplants in 2022 thanks to the generosity of deceased and living organ donors, their families, and a team of transplant caregivers at Intermountain who are dedicated to saving as many lives as possible.
The Intermountain Transplant Program performed a total of 104 liver, 159 kidney, 29 heart, and eight kidney/pancreas adult transplants last year – the fourth consecutive record-breaking year for the Intermountain Transplant Program. In 2021 the team performed 289 transplants.
“Intermountain has created the environment and provided us the necessary tools and medical team to be successful,” said Jean Botha, MD, transplant surgeon and medical director of Intermountain Health’s abdominal transplant program. “I couldn’t be prouder and more honored to be working side-by-side with these caregivers who are changing lives in our communities.”
Dr. Botha says the uptick in transplants is not just more generous donors, but an increase in donor organ availability, as well as an improvement in technologies and ever-changing medical advances.
“We are able to match a wider range of donor organs to recipients,” said Dr. Botha. “Our liver transplant rates here at Intermountain actually exceed the national average because we say, ‘Yes’ more often to liver transplants.”
The largest increase was in live transplantation, with 32 living kidney transplants and 13 living liver transplants.
“Living donors are incredible people,” said Diane Alonso, MD, transplant surgeon and former medical director of Intermountain Health’s abdominal transplant program. “They are often undergoing major surgery to give new life to their aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, neighbors – and sometimes to someone they don’t even know. They truly are giving the gift of life and we do our best to be great stewards of that gift.”
Kristine and Carrie’s Story
For Kristine Fogarty, Intermountain’s live liver transplant program gave her a chance to save a friend’s life this past year.
Kristine and Carrie Riggs have worked together for over a decade at Lumen Technologies.
When Carrie just happened to mention to Kristine, she needed a liver transplant, she didn’t even hesitate and said, “I’ll do it! Give me the information.”
Kristine went through the screening process and said, “If I match – it is the right thing to do!”
Within a couple of months Kristine passed all the screening tests and was approved to be Carrie’s donor and looked forward to making a difference in her friend’s quality of life.
For Carrie, she didn’t know how to say thank you.
“I was terrified. I thought I had to wait for someone to die and that scared me,” said Carrie. “Kristine was my lifeline. She saved my life. We are now closer than ever.”
The success of Intermountain’s transplant program, which serves patients throughout the nation, is also the result of many caregiver teams across the Intermountain system and community partners working together.
This includes Intermountain’s addition of a new, specialized Intermountain Life Flight long-range medical jet in 2022 that is used to enhance organ transplantation by retrieving donor organs from across the United Sates.
“The increased reach of this jet has been dramatic and has truly helped us be a leader in the transplant community,” said Dr. Botha.
Intermountain also launched a new platform called iReferral with InVita Healthcare Technologies and DonorConnect, the organ procurement agency for Utah and the Intermountain West.
iReferral streamlines the organ donor referral process and automates the identification of potential donors – giving critical time back to caregivers to spend with patients.
Intermountain also continues to be the only transplant program in Utah to participate in the paired kidney exchange program with the National Kidney Foundation.
Intermountain is considered a leading program nationally in the Kidney for Life Program – transplanting exceptionally well-matched living kidney donors from a national pool.
To learn more about organ donation or register to become an organ donor, go to intermountainhealthcare.org/donatelife.