Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center Performs Milestone 300th Organ Transplant on Grateful 37-Year-Old Patient from Teaneck
December 18, 2023
“Who picks up a call at 11:30 at night,” quips 37-year-old Teaneck resident Jose Vasquez, who almost didn’t answer his cell phone one night in late November but is now thankful that he did. “On the other line was a transplant coordinator from Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center telling me the team had a kidney for me and to get to the hospital right away!”
Jose, who has been managing kidney failure due to high blood pressure for the last two years, was shocked to get the call. “I started dialysis about six months ago and had only been on the kidney transplant waitlist for about a month, so I wasn’t expecting to get a call so soon,” says Jose, who was under the assumption it could take months if not years for the right kidney match.
“This is truly an outstanding achievement for Hackensack University Medical Center and our entire network,” said Robert C. Garrett, CEO, Hackensack Meridian Health. “With this milestone, we celebrate the transplant team and all of their efforts to make Hackensack University Medical Center one of the top transplant hospitals in the nation, benefiting the lives of so many patients and their families.”
“Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center is now part of an elite group of hospitals in the U.S. to have performed this many kidney transplants in one year,” says Mark D. Sparta, FACHE, President & Chief Hospital Executive, Hackensack University Medical Center and President, North Region, Hackensack Meridian Health.
“Patients who come to us for kidney transplantation have much shorter waiting times to receive a deceased donor kidney than other centers in the tri-state area,” explains Michael J. Goldstein, MD FACS, Director, Division of Organ Transplantation. “We have experienced more than 1,200% growth in the last five years alone and have become a destination center for organ transplantation.”
Jose’s kidney transplant was the team’s 300th this year, a significant milestone for any hospital offering organ transplants.
“This is the greatest Christmas present I’ve ever gotten,” says Jose, who was so happy to go home to his family less than a week after his procedure so he could get ready for the holidays. “Before starting dialysis, I was exhausted, and while it helped me feel better, I had to go three hours a week, 4 hours a day,” explains Jose, who says he was excited to find out he was the hospital’s 300th organ transplant recipient and is now looking forward to resuming his life before getting so sick. “I’m especially looking forward to celebrating Christmas with my two daughters and fiance.”
Further distinguishing Hackensack University Medical Center’s Center for Transplantation, the program was recently ranked by Definitive Healthcare among the top 10 hospitals in the United States performing the most kidney transplants. Hackensack University Medical Center is one of only a few certified transplant centers in New Jersey and the only New Jersey center to make this list. “The 300th transplant milestone and this ranking demonstrate Hackensack’s experience and high volumes in kidney transplantation, the best treatment for people, like Jose, with progressive, chronic kidney disease or kidney failure,” explains Dr. Goldstein, who also credits his collaborative and caring team. “We've built a robust team with exceptional experience whose primary focus is to provide our patients with early access to transplantation, the most effective care.”
Patients are also matched with a donor's kidney more quickly at Hackensack because the hospital accepts organ offers at a rate four times higher than the national average and transplants at almost twice the the national average. (Data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, report published January 2023.)
Hackensack University Medical Center is also a leader in organ preservation technologies, making more donor kidneys available to the patients who need them. “We employ New Jersey’s first and one of the nation’s few hospital-based machine perfusion centers to preserve donor kidneys better and increase organ utilization from across the nation. We use machine perfusion on nearly 90% of deceased donor kidneys, allowing patients to have improved immediate organ function after transplantation and reduced length of stay in the hospital,” says Dr. Goldstein. Additionally, all kidney transplant procedures are performed in the new Helena Theurer Pavilion, which features organ preservation facilities directly within the operating room.
Patients also have top access to community living donor transplant organizations. Hackensack is the only Donor Care Network center of excellence in New Jersey for the National Kidney Registry, the world’s largest kidney-paired exchange matching program. “We are committed to ensuring that our patients and the people of the communities we serve have the best access to a donor's kidney when they are in need,” said Mark D. Sparta, FACHE, president and chief hospital executive of Hackensack University Medical Center and president, Northern Region, Hackensack Meridian Health. “We are proud that one of the top kidney transplant programs in the country is right here in Hackensack.”
Additionally, the program offers patients a full range of supportive services for kidney transplant candidates both before and after surgery, including:
- Mental health care
- Financial counseling,
- Post-surgical and follow-up care,
- Education to teach you how to monitor your condition, administer anti-rejection medications, and safely return to everyday activities.
Click here to learn more about kidney transplantation at Hackensack University Medical Center.