Organ Transplants Reached Record Levels at Cleveland Clinic in 2021

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Cleveland Clinic performed 1,039 transplants in 2021, including heart, kidney, liver, intestine and lung transplants. That is up 18 percent from the number of transplants performed at Cleveland Clinic in 2020.

“First and foremost, we want to thank organ donors and their families who make the gift of life possible,” said Charles Miller, M.D., Cleveland Clinic’s enterprise director of transplantation.

Since taking on this leadership role in 2018, Dr. Miller has worked to unify Cleveland Clinic’s transplant sites, located at its main campus in Cleveland, Ohio; Weston Hospital in Florida; and Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

“The growth of Cleveland Clinic’s global transplant programs comes from a shared mission and culture based on best practices, standardized processes, quality outcomes, innovation, and teamwork at each of our sites,” said Dr. Miller.

Cleveland Clinic’s global transplant programs reached several milestones in 2021:

  • Cleveland Clinic’s liver and intestine transplant programs in Ohio were the largest in the United States, according to data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN).  
  • Cleveland Clinic’s liver transplant program in Ohio completed 210 liver transplants, which is the highest number in the history of the program.  
  • Cleveland Clinic’s main campus completed 58 living-donor kidney transplants and 33 living-donor liver transplants.  
  • At Cleveland Clinic’s main campus, all the living-donor surgeries for liver transplant were done laparoscopically. Cleveland Clinic is one of the few hospitals in the world to offer that minimally invasive procedure
  • The transplant center of Cleveland Clinic’s Weston Hospital completed its 1,000th kidney transplant, 200th heart transplant, and started a living-donor liver transplant program. 
  • Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s transplant center continues to grow. It completed more than 100 transplants last year and started a pancreas transplant program. 
  • Cleveland Clinic’s main campus, Lifebanc and Transplant Connect launched a fully automated donor referral system to streamline the organ donation process
  • Cleveland Clinic’s infectious disease and kidney transplant specialists reported successful kidney transplantation from deceased donors with a SARS-CoV-2 infection, which is the virus that causes COVID-19. 
  • Cleveland Clinic’s Organ Repair Center, which currently focuses on liver and lung, made more liver and lung transplants possible. The center evaluates and, if necessary, repairs donated livers and lungs so they can be viable for transplantation. Last year, 20 repaired livers and 31 repaired lungs were successfully transplanted. 

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) announced all-time records in 2021 for organ transplants and organ donation from deceased donors.

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

Woman Gets Married Hours Before Undergoing Heart Transplant

Hours after Kimberly said “I do!” to her fiancé, she underwent a heart transplant. Her mom and brother share the same genetic condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). After her transplant, Kimberly says she sees no limitations in her future.

Kimberly and Tony got married hours before Kimberly underwent a heart transplant at Cleveland Clinic. (Courtesy: Lael Nafziger Photography)

Doctor Hospitalized 230 Days From COVID-19 Receives Double-Lung Transplant

Dr. Kalil Masri spent 230 consecutive days in the hospital because of complications from COVID-19. His medical chart began to read like a med school textbook. It included acute respiratory distress syndrome, COVID pneumonia, superimposed H influenza, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, kidney failure and disseminated intravascular coagulation (among others). He needed a double-lung transplant to survive. Vaccines weren’t available when he contracted the disease. He says if his story helps others, then there’s a purpose for him being alive today.

Dr. Masri spent 230 consecutive days in multiple hospitals because of complications related to COVID-19. (Courtesy: Dr. Kalil Masri)

Three-Pair Kidney Swap is Transforming for Recipients and Donors

This 3-pair kidney swap started thanks to an altruistic donor who just felt called to donate a kidney to someone in need. In fact, almost everyone in this kidney transplant chain did not know each other before their surgeries. See how the kidney transplant team at Cleveland Clinic was able to bring them together and change their lives.

Most of the donors and recipients in this chain did not know each other before their surgeries. (Courtesy: Cleveland Clinic)

Uncle’s Living Donor Liver Donation Saves Toddler’s Life

At 17 months old, Brooks was dying from acute liver failure. He needed a liver transplant to survive. A living donor liver donation from his Uncle Grant didn’t just save Brooks’ life. It also saved Grant’s.

Brooks and Grant now have a special bond after Grant donated a portion of his liver to save Brooks’ life. (Courtesy: Tula Joy Photography)

Attacked by a Bull, Father of Two Undergoes Intestinal Transplant

Caleb Brooks’ life was changed in an instant when his family’s bull charged at him and pinned him to a tree. Caleb’s intestines were destroyed. His surgeons in Alabama were not sure what to do next to save his life. He was flown to Cleveland Clinic where he eventually underwent an intestinal transplant.

Caleb underwent an intestinal transplant after being pinned to a tree by a bull. (Courtesy: Riley Nicole Photography)

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. Cleveland Clinic is consistently recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for its expertise and care. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 77,000 employees worldwide are more than 5,658 salaried physicians and researchers, and 19,000 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,699-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 23 hospitals, more than 275 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2022, there were 12.8 million outpatient encounters, 303,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 270,000 surgeries and procedures 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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