ETMC Tyler completes milestone in kidney transplantation

TYLER, TX - The ETMC Tyler Kidney Transplant Center has reached a huge milestone by completing 500 kidney transplants since the program began in 1987.  An East Texas woman successfully received the 500th kidney transplant performed at ETMC on Friday, March 26, while a few days later ETMC transplanted number 501 on Monday, March 29.

Elmer G. Ellis, president/CEO of the East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System, explained that in the 1980s ETMC – along with nephrologists Dr. Tom Lowry and Dr. James Cotton – began to explore the possibilities of creating a kidney transplant program to serve East Texans.

"I remember that many times we heard: 'You're too small.  You're not associated with a medical school.  It can't be done,'" he noted.  "I'm proud to say that thanks to the hard work of our physicians and other clinical team members we did establish a highly successful kidney transplant program.  Today, as we reflect on the meaning this program has had for 500 plus patients, we recognize the miracle of organ transplantation and the new life it brings to patients suffering from kidney disease and renal failure."

Reyna Gonzalez, our 501st kidney transplant recipient, lives in Longview and is 29 years old.  She is a homemaker with four children ranging in ages from five to 12.  She suffered an injury in 2005 which destroyed both her kidneys leading to her being placed on dialysis.  She had been on ETMC's waiting list since March 2009.

Dr. Steven Potter joined ETMC Tyler as the new kidney transplant surgeon and program director in 2008. He came to ETMC after serving as surgical director of kidney transplantation at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego. "Kidney transplantation is the optimal therapy for renal failure, and it's a privilege to be able to offer patients in East Texas the same state-of-the-art, quality care available at the best institutions in the country."

ETMC currently has134 patients on our waiting list. Today there are 84,000 Americans currently on the national waiting list for kidney transplantation.