In the mid-1960s, when 30 cents bought a gallon of gasoline, first-class stamps were a nickel, and an average new home could be had for about $21,000, kidney transplant surgery was still in its infancy and survival rates were low.
Advances in kidney transplant surgery over the following decades, including anti-rejection drug advances in the late 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, have long since changed that scenario.
And since July 1991, Lehigh Valley Health Network’s (LVHN) transplant team has been transforming hope into reality, changing lives for patients with end-stage renal disease, giving them more tomorrows and a better quality of life. In 2020 alone, 112 kidneys were transplanted at LVHN.
LVHN’s kidney transplant program is one of the leaders in this region of the country, offering superior care and results for patients. For the past 17 years, LVHN also has performed pancreas transplants.
The secret to success
Michael Moritz, MD, LVPG Transplant Surgery, heads up the LVHN transplant program and says the goal is to perform kidney transplants for as many people as possible. That goal is met, says Moritz, because the transplant team and everyone involved in a transplant patient’s care works tirelessly in a culture dedicated to exceptional care.
“We’re not making decisions on whether something will be good statistically,” says Moritz. “Yes, we want to have good transplant outcomes, but we focus on getting the most from every donation and transplant opportunity. We’re performing twice as many transplants as national statistics predict we should based on the number of patients on our waiting list.”
Moritz has been a transplant surgeon since 1986 but says the surgeon’s role, while critical, is just one part of the overall success. The LVHN program is carried out by a large team consisting of transplant coordinators to nutritionists, nurses, social workers, nephrologists and much more. At LVHN, Moritz says, it’s a “well-oiled machine.”
“We work really hard. We sacrifice a lot of weekends,” he says, adding that playing such an important role in changing someone’s life is gratifying for the entire team.