ISMETT: COVID-19 Does Not Stop Transplants

ISMETT performs two new living liver transplants and enhances the program.

ISMETT's transplantation activity does not stop. There are two living liver transplants on adult patients performed in recent weeks at the Palermo center. Currently ISMETT is the only structure in Italy to have kept the program active and now, the Palermo center is about to strengthen the living transplant program so as to be able to make up for the lack of donations that has further worsened due to the ongoing pandemic.

The living program has been kept active thanks to a real reorganization of the Hospital. ISMETT is, in fact, at the forefront of the fight against the SARS COV-19 pandemic and has already set up an entire intensive care unit exclusively dedicated to coronavirus patients.

In these last two cases, a small part of their liver was donated by the children who, with their gesture, offered a new possibility to their parents. Living transplantation is possible thanks to the liver's ability to regenerate and return to normal size, both in the donor and in the recipient, within a few weeks. Both donors were discharged within days of surgery. "What was performed at ISMETT in Palermo honors Italian healthcare in its most complex moment – says Ruggero Razza, Regional Councillor for Health – It is the demonstration that among many difficulties the world of research and high clinical activity go on. The living liver transplant carried out in these days or that of the uterus, the first in Italy, performed three months ago in Catania, take on further importance precisely because of the difficult coexistence with the pandemic. It is fair to recall that the relationship with ISMETT and UPMC continues to be strategic also in the management of the epidemic in Sicily. In the first phase of the emergency, as you will recall, we managed to obtain an autonomous supply of PPE thanks to UPMC (the American partner of ISMETT, ed), now ISMETT is an active part in Covid hospital receptivity".

In ISMETT, living transplantation is a possible therapeutic option for both the kidney and liver, both in the case of adult and pediatric patients. In total, since the beginning of the living program, 277 kidney and 161 liver transplants have been performed. "ISMETT – underlines Prof. Salvatore Gruttadauria, Director of Abdominal Surgery on adult patients – is continuing its activity even in this difficult moment for the entire health system. Our efforts are focused on giving answers to the many patients who turn to us by putting in place all the medical-surgical options available to us. Given the extraordinary health emergency, we have decided not only not to suspend the living transplant program but rather we now think of further strengthening it so as to be able to give concrete answers to the many patients on the waiting list".

ISMETT at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19. There are already 24 intensive care beds made available for Covid 19 patients who will become 30 by the end of the month and even up to 40 if necessary. "The organizational effort of ISMETT and UPMC and the great commitment of all the staff – explains Angelo Luca, director of ISMETT – has made it possible to continue to offer high-specialty care to the many patients who turn to the Institute for Transplantation, Oncological Surgery and Cardiac Surgery and at the same time treat the most seriously ill patients suffering from SARS COV-19". " There are currently 10 patients with severe respiratory failure living thanks to ECMO (artificial lung), 9 in Covid intensive care and 1 in non-Covid intensive care. To do this, the Institute has been divided into two independent areas. The territorial network model with the possibility of transferring patients from one center to another depending on the intensity of the necessary care, and the continuous interaction between all the professionals in the area starting with anesthesiologists – continues Angelo Luca – allows to better manage the beds of a second level intensive care unit that has the most advanced care systems for the most serious Covid patients who in fact currently occupy only 15 of the 30 beds available".