Through the help of Temple Hospital, kidney transplants just got easier for area patients.
On January 30, a kidney transplant alliance between Temple Hospital and Crozer-Keystone Health System was formally announced. The alliance provides more convenient care for kidney transplant patients, who will have surgery at Temple Hospital and all pre- and post-operational procedures at Crozer-Keystone medical facilities in Chester and Delaware counties.
The alliance cuts down on travel time for patients, who previously would have had to find surgery and post-care outside of the Crozer-Keystone Health System, said Dr. John Daller, director of abdominal transplant surgery at Temple Hospital.
“This is an example of regionalization, which allows Temple to bring care to certain communities that don’t have access to that type of care,” Daller said.
Dr. Kevin Sperling, medical director of Crozer-Keystone transplant, said patients are excited about the alliance.
“The advantage is so many patients live outside of the city and now don’t have to go back and forth,” Sperling said. “They will be able to have everything else closer to home.”
Temple Hospital doctors and Crozer-Keystone medical staff work in close collaboration throughout the entire process.
Dr. Dan Dempsey, Temple’s Medical School chair, played a major role in creating the alliance because of his long-term relationship with Crozer-Keystone through a residency program.
“It required a significant collaborative effort on the part of Crozer, Temple School of Medicine and Temple Hospital,” Daller said.
Sperling was working at Pittsburgh University Medical Center on a transplant scholarship when Crozer-Keystone approached Sperling about being part of a new alliance. Sperling said Crozer-Keystone had been interested in transplant surgery for a while, but serious talks didn’t begin until the summer.
“I initially met with [Crozer-Keystone] at the beginning of 2007, and at that point they were early, early talks,” Sperling said. “I got involved because I’m fresh out of scholarship from a place with tons of transplant planning.”
Doctors involved with the new alliance began seeing their first patients in January. One patient has received a donor kidney, and surgery is expected to be within the next month, Daller said.
The alliance shows how Temple’s abdominal organ transplant program is growing, Daller said.
The Philadelphia area has a high number of end stage renal disease cases. The disease can be caused by a variety of ailments, such as hypertension; diabetes and lupus, and results in permanently failing kidneys, Daller said.
“The disease is a significant problem in the Philadelphia area,” Daller said. “There is a disproportional amount of diabetes and hypertension.”
Kidney transplant surgery has proved to be the most effective in eliminating the disease. The other option is dialysis, which filters patients’ blood through a machine that removes the bad substances healthy kidneys would remove.
Not only does dialysis demand 12 hours a week from the patient, but it often results in complications, with 15 to 20 percent of patients dying within a year, Daller said.
Kidney transplant surgery is more convenient and better in the longer run, Daller said.
Morgan Ashenfelter can be reached at email@example.com.