DHR Health to begin offering liver transplant services in Valleydfwnewsa | January 5, 2024 | 0 | East Texas News , South Texas News
Texas and Oklahoma alone accounted for 10.42% of all liver transplants last year. According to UNOS Data and Transplant Statistics, there were a total of 1,111 liver transplants in 2023 in the South Midwest region, which includes the state of Texas. This is compared to 10,659 transplants for the entire country last year.
By the last week of December 2023, the Southern Midwest region saw 22 new additions to the transplant waiting list — these were among the 206 new additions across the country.
There is no doubt that need exists locally as well.
Dr. Jose Almeda, director of the DHR Health Transplant Institute, said liver diseases are prevalent in the Rio Grande Valley and often require patients to travel outside of the area for the life-saving procedure.
Almeda and his team hope to begin offering the service within the next month or so and are only pending the hiring of necessary personnel.
As of now, they’ve hired one of two surgeons — Dr. Eduardo Fernandes, a native of Brazil who has conducted over 2,000 transplants.
They have also hired an anesthesiologist who will begin working in February.
Once staffing is complete and DHR Health is approved to offer transplants by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a federal organization, they will be the first in the Valley to offer liver transplant surgery.
Almeda, who previously worked at a hospital in San Antonio, recalled having to transport Valley patients to the Alamo City for a liver transplant. That’s how far Valley residents have had to travel for these transplants.
“After 10 years, being able to offer that same service here is going to be really nice for the patients,” Almeda said. “We do have a lot of patients here with liver diseases so this will be really good for the Valley.”
He explained that liver diseases are commonly caused by hepatitis, alcohol and fatty liver, with fatty liver being the most common in the Valley.
Fatty liver creates scar tissue which causes cirrhosis of the liver, and that can lead to organ failure.
Almeda said there are currently 200 patients waiting for a transplant and hopes that the service will not only save lives but also create awareness about liver health in a region that has struggled with it.
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