MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Medicine and the WVU Medicine Transplant Alliance have completed their 100th solid organ transplant surgery.

The 100th organ transplant recipient, David Wildesen, 51, of Mountain Lake Park, Maryland, received a kidney. Wildesen is doing well and was discharged home after a short stay in the hospital.

Michael Shullo, Pharm. D., WVU Medicine Transplant Alliance vice president, said this marks a significant step forward for the program and has transformed the lives of many facing organ failure, not just in West Virginia but also in the surrounding region.

“To do something that’s really unique in our area—that’s innovative, and we’ve had a lot of firsts,” Shullo said. “It’s been a really good ride, and I’m so happy we’re helping the people of West Virginia.”

The WVU Medicine Transplant Alliance was founded in 2019, and by November of that year, they had performed their first heart transplant and the first kidney transplant in March of 2020. Shullo said the team has worked through a great deal of adversity, but their efforts have changed the lives of many people suffering from poor health caused by organ failure.

“I actually wanted this to happen faster in reality, but we had a speed bump or two, namely the pandemic in developing our transplant list,” Shullo said. “But we have been able to provide exemplary care to a large number of people in a very short time period.”

Before the WVU Medicine Transplant Alliance, the process involved travel, possibly being away from family, and an extended stay away from home. The doctors, nurses, and staff have worked countless hours to develop the list, work with patients, and complete the procedures.

“We’ve been able to shorten the wait time for some folks and shorten the travel time, so a lot of them are closer to their families,” Shullo said. “That’s been our mission, and we’ve been able to achieve that, and I couldn’t be prouder of our program because of it.”

Shullo said every second counts during the transplant process. Preparing the patient and staff for the procedure often requires coordination between some non-medical partners in the process. During the pandemic, a significant portion of airport traffic was related to the transplant center.

“Part of that is working through our local airport and working with a lot of other teams like ambulance services to make sure we get both the people and the necessary life-saving things to the folks who need them when they need them.”

The infrastructure for the procedures and support system for patients, which includes some of the country’s top surgeons, physicians, and transplant professionals who work with a team of pharmacists, social workers, dietitians, and financial coordinators, could be poised to expand into new services.

“Of course we’re looking at evaluating other opportunities and other transplant needs in the state moving forward, but there’s nothing concrete yet for that.”