Dr. Sunil Patel Leads UMC Transplant Center to Record-Breaking Year
Since joining the UMC Center for Transplantation as program director in 2020, Dr. Sunil Patel has worked alongside his colleagues at Nevada’s first and only transplant center to significantly expand access to life-saving kidney transplants. During the most recent fiscal year, the UMC Center for Transplantation performed 154 transplant procedures, more than tripling the annual number of transplants recorded in recent years.
“We have built an incredible team of transplant experts who remain dedicated to building upon our strong foundation and meeting the health care needs of our community,” Dr. Patel says. “As a result of this dedicated team, we’re evaluating patients earlier and working to reduce the time spent on the waiting list for kidney transplants. We have also expanded the criteria for transplant recipients, allowing our team to provide life-saving transplants for a larger number of Nevadans.”
In the past, many patients were ineligible for transplants based solely on their age or body mass index, even if they were otherwise healthy. To help a larger population of patients, Dr. Patel and his colleagues recently expanded the BMI limit from 35 to 45, while evaluating patients up to 80 years old for transplants. Patients who fall within the expanded criteria are no longer automatically disqualified. Dr. Patel explains that the UMC Center for Transplantation assesses each prospective organ recipient on a case-by-case basis, analyzing a variety of health factors to promote the best possible outcomes.
While BMI plays a key role in a person’s overall health, a higher BMI has not been shown to affect outcomes for kidney recipients. Kidney failure patients with higher BMIs often fall into a vicious cycle: they are not eligible to receive a transplant as a result of their weight, but without a transplant, many are unable to regain the necessary mobility and energy to lose weight.
“At UMC, our team believes these patients deserve the opportunity to break this cycle and live healthier, more fulfilling lives,” Dr. Patel says. “Rather than facing the prospect of remaining on dialysis indefinitely, many of these patients now have the opportunity to improve their quality of life.”
Dr. Patel and his team members also work tirelessly to optimize the use of donor kidneys, utilizing innovative procedures to reduce wait times and help patients recover from kidney failure. This includes performing dual kidney transplants in certain cases, using two donor kidneys rather than one to promote the best possible outcome. In many cases, the donor organs used for dual kidney procedures are not suitable for single organ transplants and would have otherwise been discarded. Dr. Patel says UMC has performed a total of 10 dual kidney transplants, with perfect results in every case.
Looking toward the future, Dr. Patel says UMC plans to introduce the state’s first and only pancreas transplant program in the coming months.
“As the UMC Center for Transplantation continues to expand” Dr. Patel says. “Our world-class team members take pride in elevating the level of care available in Nevada”.
Call 702-383-2224 or visit www.umcsn.com/transplant to learn more about the UMC Center for Transplantation.