The Grand Hall of Montefiore Medical Center’s Moses Campus roared with the sounds of doctors and transplant patients mingling about. On Sept. 13, those who’ve received a transplant came to say ‘thank you’ to the Norwood hospital. The celebration came on the heels on the 50th anniversary of when the hospital began performing transplants.
Montefiore performs some 250 transplant operations yearly, with kidney transplantation ranking the most common of them. The hospital is slated to introduce lung transplants to its offerings.
In the last 50 years, thousands of walked into Montefiore’s flagship hospital for a transplant. Dr. Jay A. Graham, the director of Helping Hands, visualized those numbers by corralling transplant patients together to demonstrate how many have had the surgical procedure.
“The first transplant was done in 1954 and that was before they had any immunosuppressive drugs,” said Dr. Milan Kinkhabwala, director of abdominal transplantation at Montefiore. “So we had started very early doing transplants. And during that time we’ve seen an explosion of better drugs that prevent rejection, better antibiotics for infection, and better surgical techniques.”
But the organ wait list is large in New York. It’s a reason Dr. Kinkhabwala is urging the community to “register for organ donation on the Donate Life website or through the [New York State Department of Motor Vehicles website]”
Edwin Rodriguez donated his kidney to his son in 2008. His son, who was 21 years old when he underwent the operation, spent most of his adolescence taking medication for his kidneys. “As a kidney donor, I have no changes in my life physically, but to give my son a second opportunity in life a s a parent is a no-brainer,” he said.
“I appreciate my life, other people’s lives and handicaps, and value how short life really is,” said Jacqeline Oleanik, a transplant patient. “I hope that one day I can reciprocate and give someone an organ. That would be the icing on the cake.”