Transplants provide inspiration for recipient to become medical tech
Sil Rossini says he knows what's at stake when he administers echocardiograms to young patients at Children's Hospital.
“I deal with kids who have had transplants, kids who need them. Having my background, having learned about the heart the hard way, I can relate to these kids,” said Rossini, an echocardiogram technician at the hospital.
Rossini had a heart defect that caused cirrhosis of the liver and underwent simultaneous heart and liver transplants at UPMC Presbyterian in 2006. He is one of about 20,000 people who received transplants through the health system since it did its first in 1968.
UPMC said it has performed 1,521 lung transplants, more than any other hospital in the country. UPMC's 1,346 heart transplants puts it among the nation's top five hospitals for the number of heart transplants, the hospital said, and it has done 135 combined heart and lung transplants.
Transplants in the UPMC system are performed at Children's Hospital, UPMC Presbyterian, UPMC Montefiore and UPMC Ismett in Palermo, Italy.
“We are seeing more patients, more complex patients than we have seen in the past. Other hospitals sometimes will not do transplants in complex cases,” said Dr. Christian Bermudez, associate director of the Cardiothoracic Transplant division of cardiac surgery at UPMC.
The heart-lung program has been less problematic than UPMC's live-donor liver and kidney transplants, which last year were closed for more than two months after UPMC acknowledged its surgeons transplanted a kidney from a donor infected with hepatitis C — a mishap health care officials say is extremely rare.
In recent years, UPMC has had lower-than-expected rates of survival for transplant patients, according to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, which analyzes data about organ transplant programs at hospitals nationwide. UPMC physicians say those results partially reflect the hospital's willingness to take more challenging and risky patients.
Bermudez and other doctors say they're proud of patients such as Rossini. Before his transplant, he walked with a cane or used a wheelchair. Two years ago, he ran the 100-meter dash and relay races in Team Pittsburgh transplant games.
“I would not have survived without this hospital,” said Rossini, a one-time auto parts dealer who became a medical technician after his transplant surgery.
Jim Uhrig, 66, of Peters received a lung in 2009 and regularly speaks for the Center for Organ Recovery & Education, the agency that administers the organ donation waiting list.
“Speaking is a great opportunity to thank donor families,” said Uhrig, who for years sold high-temperature furnace linings used in steel mills. He now works at a family-owned custom frame shop. Uhrig needed a double lung transplant because of pulmonary fibrosis, a scarring or thickening of the lungs without a known cause.
Uhrig received the lungs of a nurse from Kansas who died from an aneurysm.
“She is an angel to me,” Uhrig said.
Last month, Uhrig ran the 100-meter sprint at the Transplant Games of America in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Allegheny General Hospital in the North Side also operates a transplant program. In 2010, AGH hospital had the highest rate of transplant survivors in the state, according to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients. Last year, AGH ranked second in the state for the survival rate of transplant patients.
“We stress quality over volume. We work hard at having very careful follow-up care,” said Dr. Raymond Benza, medical director of heart transplants at AGH.
Last year UPMC performed 29 heart transplants and AGH performed 21.
Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Founder of Z&M Cycle Sales in Hempfield killed in Florida motorcycle crash
- Starkey: Tomlin lived in his fears
- Increasing player salaries pinch financial flexibility of Pirates
- W.V. entrepreneurs offer hope as coal fades as economic engine
- Slain St. Clair officer walked into ‘worst nightmare’ for police
- 2,200 union employees of ATI lose coverage
- Penguins’ reshuffled top line of Crosby, Dupuis, Kunitz looks familiar
- 7 percent in Allegheny County allowed to carry concealed gun
- Fabregas: To pay or not to pay: Hospital’s bill for procedure or insurer’s rate?
- U.S. Marine found guilty of killing transgender Filipino
- Film session: Long shots dotted Steelers’ passing game