ISMETT reaches 200th living-donor kidney transplant milestone

ISMETT recently performed its 200th adult living-donor kidney transplant, a milestone reached right in the midst of the COVID-19 emergency. ISMETT in Palermo is one of only three Italian centers (the others are in Padua and in Bari) to currently have an active living-donor kidney transplant program. “In order to keep this program active,” said Salvatore Piazza, Director of ISMETT’s Kidney Transplant Program, “all the protocols were reviewed and safety levels increased to guarantee the maximum safety for the patients and the donors.”

Right now ISMETT ranks fourth in Italy for number of living-donor kidney transplants out of the 34 authorized transplant centers. Patient #200 is a young Sicilian woman from the province of Enna. The kidney donor was the woman’s mother who, with her choice, allowed her daughter to resume a good quality of life without having to resort to dialysis. Mother and daughter were discharged home only 7 days after the transplant. “The donor and the recipient are both in very good conditions,” said Salvatore Gruttadauria, Chief of ISMETT’s Department of Abdominal Surgery. “The young woman was referred to our center in time and this, together with her mother’s choice to donate, allowed us to perform a preemptive transplant, that is a transplant performed before initiation of dialysis.”

ISMETT has significantly increased its activity in the last year going from the 8 living-donor kidney transplants performed in 2018 to 18 carried out in 2019.  This increased activity is the result of a stronger collaboration with the network of Sicilian nephrologists with the goal to facilitate the preemptive transplants. This procedure allows to improve the survival rate of both the patient and the donated graft, while reducing the costs for the Regional Health System considering that one patient on dialysis costs on average between €30,000 and €45,000 every year.

The kidney graft was procured laparoscopically using a minimally-invasive surgical technique that is being used more and more at ISMETT, and that minimizes the risks for the donor and the length of hospital stay. “This technique,” underlined Davide Cintorino, in charge of the laparoscopic kidney procurements, “allows to remove the organ only with four small holes in the abdomen and one small incision, similar to that of a Cesarean section, but smaller. This minimally-invasive approach allows to reduce the donor’s hospital stay thanks to a faster recovery, and provides for a better post-operative pain control and improved aesthetic outcome, with much smaller scars that will heal very quickly.”