Cleveland Clinic Reaches New Organ Transplant Record in 2019

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Caroline Auger 216.296.6012

Organ transplants reached record levels at Cleveland Clinic in 2019. The hospital system performed 897  transplants, including heart, kidney, liver and lung transplants. That’s up 3 percent from 2018’s record-breaking year. Cleveland Clinic also introduced innovative techniques to shorten recovery times for both recipients and living donors.

“Patients with end-stage organ disease rely on us to deliver excellent care. We are a global team of caregivers who change the lives of patients throughout the world, including those who underwent transplantation in 2019. Our focus on quality and patient safety, along with innovation, empathy, and teamwork enables us to offer more patients life-changing hope because together we tackle some of the most complex cases,” said Charles Miller, M.D., director of transplantation at Cleveland Clinic.

Cleveland Clinic is following a national trend. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), 39,718 organ transplants were performed in the U.S. in 2019. In Northeast Ohio, more than 70,000 people registered to be an organ donor for the first time last year, according to Lifebanc.

Here are some of the inspiring Cleveland Clinic patients impacted by organ donation in 2019:

World’s First Single-Port Robotic Kidney Transplant Eases Recovery

Laura was just 26 years old when she was diagnosed with stage 5 kidney disease. She originally thought she was just having migraines. It was a shock when she received the diagnoses. Before long, she was undergoing dialysis for up to nine hours a day and was put on the waitlist for a donor kidney. When she finally received the call, Dr. Alvin Wee also asked if she would be willing to be the world’s first patient to have a single-port robotic kidney transplant. Surgical tools and a donated kidney are all placed through one small incision. Laura’s recovery was incredible. She didn’t take any pain killers following her surgery, and she was discharged from the hospital two days later.

Minimally Invasive Transplant Surgery is Transformative for Living Liver Donor’s Recovery

Abraham Aviv didn’t know how long he would live. He was suffering from cryptogenic cirrhosis and needed a liver transplant. His daughter’s boyfriend, Nikko, turned out to be a perfect match. Nikko underwent Cleveland Clinic’s first purely laparoscopic living donor surgery for liver transplant. The minimally invasive technique benefits the living donor, who experiences better postoperative recovery and a quicker return to normal life, less pain, smaller scars, and lower risk of an incisional hernia compared with traditional open surgery.

Nikko (donor, left) and Abraham (recipient, right) are doing well. With the laparoscopic donor surgery, Nikko has only small incisions on his abdomen.

Two-Time Living Organ Donor Donates Liver, Saves Baby’s Life

Days after birth, doctors diagnosed Katelyn Kutscher with biliary atresia. As her condition worsened, she was put on the liver transplant waiting list. Joe Gilvary, a perfect stranger, became Katelyn’s living liver donor. Joe is one of approximately 50 people in the United States to have donated more than one organ, to two different people, over the past 25 years.

By Her Father’s Grace, Mom of Three Has a New Kidney

Amanda Egli needed a kidney transplant because of complications from focal segmental glomerulosclerosis – a disease that causes scarring in the kidneys. Siblings are typically the best match for a kidney transplant, parents usually aren’t, especially fathers. However, Amanda’s father, Jim, turned out to be a perfect match.

Woman No Longer Type 1 Diabetic After Kidney-Pancreas Transplant

Doctors diagnosed Alana Burns with type 1 diabetes when she was 7 years old. Years later, after her conditioned worsened, she knew dialysis or a transplant would be in her future. At age 44, Alana underwent a dual kidney-pancreas transplant. As a result of the surgery, she’s no longer a diabetic and is free of the daily blood testing and insulin pump she relied on for 37 years.

Register to become an organ donor with Lifebanc and you could save up to eight lives.


About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 72,500 employees worldwide are more than 5,050 salaried physicians and researchers, and 17,800 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,500-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 21 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2021, there were 10.2 million total outpatient visits, 304,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 259,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at Follow us at News and resources available at

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