© 2023 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Record number of kidney transplants at Syracuse's Upstate University Hospital


2015 was a banner year for kidney transplants at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse. Surgeons performed 80 transplants, the most ever.

For the last 25 years, doctors at Upstate averaged about 30-40 kidney transplants a year, according to transplant chief Rainer Gruessner.

“The institution made a commitment to transplantation," Gruessner said. "More people came on board in terms of faculty and staff. New York State is underserved in terms of transplant facilities. And, that all contributed to the fact that last year the most kidney transplants were done at upstate.”

Gruessner said kidneys from live donors simply last longer than those from deceased donors.

“So if you were to receive a  kidney donor from a deceased donor, it would work on average 8-10 years," Gruessner said. "For a living donor it’s going to be 18-20 years. If you happen to have a twin sibling it will be 28-30 years. So more often than not, living kidney donors are for life.”

The lack of certain kinds of transplants in upstate New York will also fuel the next step for growth of the program at the Syracuse hospital. Gruessner said there are plans later this year to launch a program with a goal of becoming a major transplant center for diabetics across the entire state.

“With plans to make it a major transplant center for patients with diabetes, for kidneys, or for combined pancreas and kidney or pancreas transplants alone, I think we’ll see a further increase, maybe not this year, because we’ve transplanted many patients off our waiting list, but for many years to come,” Gruessner said.

The program is becoming more regional, with physicians outside of Onondaga County increasing their referrals for transplants at Upstate.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.