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AGH Heart, Liver Transplant Programs Rank Among Country’s Best

Drs. Bailey and Sokos have a practice at the Outpatient Care Center in Peters Township.

The heart and liver transplantation programs at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) are among the nation’s best in patient care quality, according to the latest report by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR).

For the second consecutive SRTR reporting period, AGH’s one-year survival rate among patients undergoing heart transplant was the best of any medical center in the state, and the hospital was one of just three heart transplant programs in the country (joining the Cleveland Clinic and Vanderbilt University) noted for better than expected patient outcomes, a release states.

AGH’s liver transplant performance was equally impressive during the reporting period, posting a one-year survival rate that was the state’s best and among the top 25 adult transplant programs in the country (out of approximately 139 medical centers). The liver transplant program’s one year and three year patient outcomes also were the best of Pittsburgh’s three adult transplant centers by a considerable margin.

AGH’s kidney and pancreas transplant outcomes also were strong during the review period.

“Allegheny General Hospital has distinguished itself over the past two decades as an outstanding referral center for end-stage organ failure and transplantation.  The exceptional quality of care demonstrated in the SRTR report reflects a commitment to clinical excellence and personalized care at every step of the patient’s experience,” said Dr. Keith T. Ghezzi, interim president and chief executive officer of the West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS), in a news release.

“We are extremely proud of the incredibly talented and dedicated multi-disciplinary team of transplant specialists at AGH who have helped achieve such great results for our patients and who have set such a high standard of care in this very specialized field of medicine,” he said.

AGH’s heart transplant program is led by medical director Dr. Raymond Benza, medical director; and Dr. Stephen Bailey, surgical director, who has a practice at the .

Other physician leaders in the program include transplant surgeon Dr. Robert Moraca, transplant surgeon; Dr. Srinivas Murali, heart failure specialist and medical director of AGH’s Cardiovascular Institute; Drs. George Sokos, Manreet Kanwar and Amresh Raina, directors of WPAHS’ Division of Cardiovascular Medicine; and surgeon Dr. George Magovern, chairman of the AGH Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.

Sokos also has a practice at the Outpatient Care Center.

AGH’s Center for Abdominal Transplantation is directed by surgeon Dr. Ngoc Thai. The center’s medical staff leaders also include several transplant surgeons—Drs. Kusum Tom, Akhtar Khan and Peter Abrams; Dr. Jose Oliva, gastroenterologist and medical director of liver transplantation; and Dr. Sabhia Hussain, nephrologist and medical director of kidney and pancreas transplantation.  

Among many other healthcare professionals at AGH who are key members of the transplant team and who have been instrumental to the success of the program are critical care specialists Drs. Peter Linden, Steve Bowles, Subbarao Elapavaluru, Carl Sirio, Joe Rossi and Chris Brackney.

Also, Drs. Mike Dishart and Joseph Kim, both anesthesiologists; along with physicians specializing in psychiatry, pathology and infectious disease; intensive care nurses specially trained in transplantation; transplant patient care coordinators; physician assistants; social workers; dieticians; and pharmacists. 

Established in 1987 as a center for heart, kidney and pancreas transplantation, AGH became certified as a liver transplant program in 2010. The hospital and its medical staff have been innovators in the field of transplantation over the years.  AGH doctors, for example, helped pioneer the use of heart assist devices as bridges to transplantation and performed both the city’s first bilateral adult kidney transplant and first laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy procedure. 

In July 2011, AGH became one of just a few transplant centers in the nation to perform robotic assisted live donor nephrectomy, further minimizing the invasiveness of the procedure and its toll on kidney donors. The hospital also has helped reduce the waiting time for kidney transplant candidates by playing a major active role in national live kidney donor exchanges. 

SRTR is the official national database of organ transplantation statistics and serves as the repository of information used to analyze transplantation trends and patient outcomes in the United States. The new SRTR report covers transplantation procedures performed at hospitals between July 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2010. 

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