A newly opened clinic at UPMC Pinnacle in Harrisburg aims to improve the odds of survival for patients waiting for a life-saving donation.
The UPMC Liver Transplant Evaluation Clinic opened Thursday at 205 S. Front St. It provides hepatology services and pre-liver transplant evaluation services, including diagnostics, blood tests, radiology and examinations.
All surgeries and the identification of potential donors will be performed at UPMC Montefiore, a hospital in Pittsburgh.
Before the Harrisburg clinic opened, patients from Central Pennsylvania had to travel to Pittsburgh for their liver disease or transplant-related appointments.
Often, as patients wait for a donation, their health gradually declines, said Dr. Swaytha Ganesh, who leads the clinic and is medical director of the UPMC Living Donor Program.
“Around 25 percent of those waiting will succumb to their disease before receiving a life-saving transplant,” Ganesh said. “We saw a huge unmet clinical need, so it made sense to have them here.”
More than 14,000 people across the country are on the waiting list for liver transplants, but only about 2,700 liver transplants are performed every year.
The liver-transplant clinic also provides information about living-donor transplants, a potential treatment for people diagnosed with chronic liver disease. During a living-donor liver transplant, Ganesh said a piece of healthy liver is removed from a living person and transplanted into another person to replace an unhealthy liver. After 10 to 12 weeks, both the liver in the recipient and the donor will have completely regenerated, she said.
“Living-donor liver transplant is possible for virtually every person on the waiting list,” Ganesh said. “UPMC believes no one should die waiting for a liver transplant.”
UPMC Pinnacle also has offices providing services for patients waiting for kidney and pancreas transplants.