U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Honors University of Maryland Liver Transplant Program for Patient Outcomes

Only program in Maryland to be recognized for “better than expected pre- or post-liver transplant outcomes”

The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) Liver Transplant Program, within the Division of Transplantation, is the only liver transplant program in the state to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) for better than expected performance in deceased donor transplant rate. The Bronze Level award from HRSA arrives on the heels of a year when UMMC performed the most liver transplants in the history of its program — 86 transplants in 2012.

In 2012, University of Maryland Medical Center transplanted twice the national average and an overall higher percentage of Status 1 liver failure patients (the most critically ill liver patients) in 2012 than any other center in Maryland, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, per the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR). UMMC was also the largest referral center in 2012 for patients with acute liver failure throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C. (SRTR).

The liver is one of the most complex organs in the body,” says Rolf Barth, M.D., associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and surgical director of liver transplantation at UMMC. “Therefore, in order for our patients to remain eligible for transplantation and then be successful with their new graft, our entire team has to be knowledgeable in caring for them at all stages of liver failure, including before the transplant, In the operating room, and after the transplant. Together with our medical colleagues and nursing staff in the University of Maryland Liver Center, we feel confident that we are setting our transplant patients up for success in every way possible.”

Nearly 16,000 patients are on the liver transplant wait list nationally, per the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. Many patients die while waiting for an organ from a deceased donor to become available. University of Maryland surgeons are specially trained in performing adult living donor liver transplantation to increase the options for patients on the wait list. The living donor option not only increases the number of available donor organs but also enables recipients to get transplanted earlier on in their liver disease, making them healthier going into the transplant and more likely to have better long-term outcomes following transplantation. 

For most patients, liver failure is a progressive condition that worsens over time. Patients with chronic conditions, such as hepatitis, liver cancer and cirrhosis, typically receive other medical treatments for their liver disease before needing a liver transplant.

“It is our job as transplant hepatologists to keep our patients as healthy as possible during the progression of their liver disease so that they can stay on the wait list and remain viable for transplantation,” says William Hutson, M.D., professor at the University of Maryland School of

Medicine and medical director of liver transplantation at UMMC. “We always make sure that we have considered every other treatment option prior to transplantation for our liver failure patients, but when necessary, we are prepared to guide patients through that leap to a successful transplant and recovery.”

Physicians within the University of Maryland Liver Center specialize in treating patients with all types and at all stages of liver and hepatobiliary disease. Transplantation is often viewed as the most advanced option on the treatment spectrum, but other medical and interventional therapies can be used to manage liver disease, gall bladder or bile duct conditions. Medical and surgical physicians from the Liver Center meet weekly to review cases of liver patients in a multi-disciplinary team setting that draws on the team’s broad spectrum of expertise in clinical outcomes and scientific research.

The University of Maryland Division of Transplantation is one of the highest volume transplant programs in the country, specializing in liver, kidney, pancreas, heart, lung and bone marrow transplantation. The Division is known for combining world-class transplant immunology research with surgical innovation in efforts to increase the number of organs available for transplantation and improve patient outcomes.