The New York State Department of Health has approved Long Island’s first adult liver transplant program, which will begin listing patients with the greatest need later this month through the at (NSUH).
The new liver transplant program, which debuts 16 months after Northwell Health successfully performed the region’s first heart transplant at the at NSUH, opens access to critically ill patients in an underserved area that stretches from Suffolk and Nassau counties to Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Of the more than 1,100 state residents state currently awaiting a liver transplant, nearly half live in Northwell Health’s catchment area.
In addition, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which runs the nation’s transplant system, recently proposed rules for organ procurement that would open the way for New Yorkers to receive a greater percentage of available organs. Under the new guidelines, which are being challenged in court, patients near death within 575 miles of a donor hospital would be offered a liver first, bypassing the current model that includes 11 regions subdivided into more localized waiting lists. NSUH’s new status as a liver transplant center can help fill that dire need for residents in the region.
“Nearly five people die each day in the United States waiting for a liver that will never come. By establishing an adult liver transplant program on Long Island, we’re changing the narrative for thousands of New Yorkers living with this fatal disease,” said , president and CEO at Northwell Health. “This is the latest transplant program that Northwell Health has established with the goal of improving the health of the communities we serve, from adult kidney, to pediatric kidney, to heart and now liver transplant.”
The Sandra Atlas Bass Center for Liver Diseases, led by David Bernstein, MD, Northwell’s chief of hepatology and head of the health system’s liver sub-specialty service line, is already providing pre- and post-liver transplant services along with care for those suffering from end-stage liver disease to more than 100 patients. Northwell’s liver transplant program will provide world-class care from the outset, utilizing new facilities and medical personnel in which the health system has invested. In the last few months alone, NSUH opened a 13,000-square-foot, $26 million Surgical and Transplant Intensive Care Unit (ICU), renovated two existing operating rooms into state-of-the-art surgical transplant operating suites and made 50 additional hires to support the program, including its medical director Sanjaya Satapathy, MD, and transplant surgeons Elliot I. Grodstein, MD, and Lawrence Lau, MBBS, PhD, who is scheduled to start work later this summer.
Dr. Satapathy joined Northwell earlier this year from the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center’s Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute, where he served as associate medical director of liver transplantation. He is spearheading an international collaboration group is studying non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is now considered a global public health crisis.
Dr. Grodstein, who completed a fellowship in abdominal transplant surgery at the University of Wisconsin before arriving at Northwell, earned a bachelor’s of science from McGill University in Montreal, his medical degree from Columbia University and completed his residency at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Dr. Lau, who studied in Australia and Canada, most recently served with Toronto General Hospital’s Multiorgan Transplant Program. He earned a bachelor’s of science in chemical engineering from Queens University, his bachelor of medicine/bachelor of surgery (MBBS Hons) from the University of Sydney, followed by a diploma of surgical anatomy and PhD at the University of Melbourne.
“The burden of end-stage liver disease is enormous for Long Islanders, who in the past were forced to look elsewhere for life-saving treatment,” said Lewis Teperman, MD, FACS, vice chair of surgery at NSUH and director of organ transplantation at Northwell Health. “It’s time that care for these patients be provided close to home with a minimum of disruption to their lives and that of their caregivers.”
“Northwell Health has had a robust liver program for the past 20 years specializing in the care of patients with all types and stages of liver disease,” said Dr. Bernstein. “One in four people on Long Island have chronic liver disease and many of them will develop cirrhosis and its complications, including liver cancer.”
It’s a significant week on another front: Dr. Teperman and transplant team members are presenting five papers at the American Transplant Congress in Boston June 1-5. The topics range from innovations in the successful use of organs from the opioid epidemic, increasing organ donation through the EICU and addressing outcomes with the new allocation system in pediatric transplants.
The liver transplant program was developed in partnership with Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, which is affiliated with Northwell Health. To learn more about Northwell Health’s transplant services, call (516) 472-5800 or go to: https://nsuh.northwell.edu/transplant-services.