The first successful organ transplant procedures took place in the 1950s and involved patients with kidney disease who received kidneys from living donors.

With advances in surgical techniques and improved drugs to prevent infection and rejection, organ transplantation is now recognized as the most effective treatment for many diseases. There have been remarkable advances in the field of transplantation, and UCSF is at the forefront of this success story.

Nancy Ascher, MD, PhD

Nancy Ascher, MD, PhD

Founded in the 1960s, the UCSF Transplant Service is a world leader in clinical transplantation and has developed innovative techniques while producing superior outcomes. Patient care is integrated with research and education in a program that focuses on clinical application of the latest research findings and on training the next generation of transplant leaders.

Organ transplantation at UCSF is performed under the auspices of the Department of Surgery in two specialty areas: abdominal (kidney, liver, pancreas, intestine, islet cell) and cardiothoracic (heart, lung). Solid organ transplant is the main area of concentration, but as transplant science evolves, UCSF researchers are pioneering new approaches such as transplanting islet cells from the pancreas – instead of transplanting the full organ – to treat type 1 diabetes.

Today, UCSF is one of the busiest transplant centers in the country, known for taking challenging cases. Since the Transplant Service’s founding, UCSF has performed organ or islet cell transplant procedures in more than 11,000 patients. UCSF survival rates consistently are above the national averages reported by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients.

Because UCSF routinely treats some of the sickest transplant patients or those with extensive complications, its outcomes are particularly significant, says Nancy Ascher, MD, PhD, chair of the UCSF Department of Surgery and a transplant surgeon.

Patients receive comprehensive care from a team of experts who represent medical disciplines as well as support services, and who work together to develop an overall plan for the patient.

In transplant research, UCSF basic science and clinical investigators have achieved significant milestones in immunogenetics, immune response and immunosuppressive therapy. They also are among the most successful in the nation at attracting competitively awarded grants from the National Institutes of Health to support their work.