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UW Hospital hits major milestone with 2,000th liver transplant

February 13, 2013

Scott A. Vanderloop of Appleton received a second chance at life recently after becoming the 2,000th patient to receive a liver transplant at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison. The procedure places UW Hospital among an elite group of transplant centers across the country to reach this notable milestone.

“This is certainly a proud accomplishment for our liver transplant program and a testament to all the dedicated professionals, both past and present, who’ve worked so hard to help improve the lives of our patients and their families,” said Dr. Tony D’Alessandro, director of the hospital’s liver transplant program. “We are more excited and motivated than ever by what the future holds, and we look forward to helping even more patients in need.”

The UW Hospital liver transplant program was started in 1984 and is only the 12th program out of 160 nationwide to reach the milestone of 2,000 liver transplants (1,756 adults and 244 children). Since the program’s inception, the field of transplantation has undergone dramatic change, resulting in longer survival rates and much higher quality of life for patients.

“Transplant recipients are leading healthier, more normal lives as a result of the many innovations I have seen during my career, including significant improvements in surgical techniques, organ preservation methods, immunosuppressive therapy, and long-term management,” says D’Alessandro, who has worked in the UW transplant program for more than 25 years.  

Considered one of the most active and successful of its kind in the country, the UW program has a relatively low median wait time for a liver (just 3.3 months compared to 12.5 months nationally) and impressive one- and three-year patient survival rates of 92.73 and 84 percent, respectively.

Vanderloop, who was diagnosed with liver cancer in July and placed on the liver transplant waiting list in September, says the transplant has given him a new perspective on life.

“I’m going to spend more time with my family and friends and appreciate all the things that really matter,” he says. “I’m so grateful to my entire transplant team for giving me my life back. I don’t think I could have asked for better care.”

There are currently more than 230 people in Wisconsin and nearly 16,000 nationwide who are on the waiting list for a new liver. UW Hospital performs both adult and pediatric liver transplants and offers a living liver-donor program.