Penn State Health reestablishes transplant program

Cris Collingwood//March 30, 2023

Penn State Health reestablishes transplant program

Cris Collingwood//March 30, 2023

From left: Dr. Raymond Lynch, Dr. Johnny Hong, and Dr. Thomas Butler will lead Penn State Health’s abdominal organ transplant program – PHOTO/PROVIDED

Penn State Health has reestablished its abdominal organ transplant program for people with kidney or liver disease, after inactivating it last year. 

The program at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center with a new team of surgeons, will allow patients to receive transplants close to home, completing the full spectrum of kidney and liver care already provided by medical and surgical specialists at Penn State Health, the health system said. 

“We voluntarily inactivated our program in April 2022 to improve it, and we’ve since built the abdominal transplant program the people of central Pennsylvania deserve,” said Deborah Addo, chief operating officer of Penn State Health, who oversaw the project. “Our new surgeons join our medical specialty directors to lead one of the best kidney and liver care teams in the country.” 

Penn State Health’s new team of abdominal transplant surgeons includes: 

  • Dr. Johnny Hong, an internationally recognized leader in abdominal transplant and hepatobiliary surgery with a track record for building top programs, heads the Penn State Health abdominal transplant program as chief of the Division of Transplantation and director of liver transplant surgery. 
  • Dr. Thomas Butler serves as surgical director of kidney transplant surgery. His clinical interests include expanding minority organ donations and equity in access to organ transplantation, as well as increasing the transplant workforce. 
  • Dr. Raymond Lynch serves as director of transplantation quality and outcomes. Lynch is a board-certified, fellowship-trained abdominal transplant and hepatobiliary surgeon who specializes in treating patients with end-stage kidney and liver diseases. 

Michelle Lorenz will serve as program administrator for Penn State Health’s transplant program, overseeing administration for both abdominal transplant and the system’s heart transplant program.  

Lorenz joined Penn State Health from the University of Virginia Medical Center after 17 years of transplant and related leadership roles. 

Hong has established priorities for the Penn State Health program since his arrival in November, including recruitment of Butler and Lynch to the surgical team, Penn State Health said. A fourth surgeon will also join the transplant team in August.  

Hong has also focused on building the foundation for a destination center of excellence for end-stage organ diseases and transplantation and expanding access to include underserved communities and patients with the most medically challenging conditions, Penn State Health said.  

“Transplant surgery can provide patients a second chance at life, and we want everyone in central Pennsylvania who needs this care to know that we have built a truly exceptional multidisciplinary program they can trust right here,” Hong said. “Our first priority will be achieving clinical excellence and providing the best care for our patients, and then we’ll focus on ways to remove the barriers that prevent some patients from accessing the transplant services they need.” 

In rebuilding the abdominal transplant program under Addo and Hong’s supervision, Penn State Health overhauled its administrative procedures and updated its surgical equipment.  

In addition to their work with patients, the surgeons will serve as faculty at Penn State College of Medicine, helping train the next generation of physicians and surgeons.