In 1969, transplantation was still an emerging part of the clinical partnership between the fledgling University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio and the brand-new Bexar County Hospital. Founding faculty included Dr. J. Bradley Aust and Dr. Marvin Forland, who were preparing for the first kidney transplant to be performed in a San Antonio civilian hospital.
Neither dialysis nor transplantation were available outside the San Antonio military community at the time.
Dr. Forland still recalls the first successful kidney transplant, performed for a patient named Joan Wish. “Throughout all the years, we considered her the poster child for transplantation, and she was always available to other individuals who were candidates for dialysis and/or transplantation. She helped guide them, answering concerns about going ahead with this very demanding and serious medical treatment, either dialysis and/or transplantation.”
Joan was honored in March 2001 at a Kidney Foundation of South and Central Texas Gift of Life event, where Dr. Forland spoke about her devotion to a successful outcome and willingness to help others. She lived until Nov. 4, 2007, and her life was a testimony to the lifesaving value of transplants.
In addition to Joan’s transplant, the Transplant Center has since gone on to perform a number of firsts over the years in its dedication to restoring patients to a better quality of life:
- 1987 - First heart/double lung transplant in South Texas
- 1988 - First pediatric kidney transplant and first pediatric heart transplant
- 1989 - First lung transplant in the world to treat pulmonary hypertension
- 1992 - First adult liver transplant
- 1995 - First kidney/pancreas transplant at a civilian hospital
- 1997 - First civilian split-liver transplant in South Texas and program’s first pediatric liver transplant
- 1999 - First laparoscopic kidney donor surgery in San Antonio and first adult-to-adult living donor liver transplant in South Texas
- 2007 - First kidney donor exchange transplant
- 2019 - First in the nation to perform a live liver paired donation exchange
- 2020 - Among the first in the state and country to perform a COVID-related double lung transplant
Currently, the Transplant Center has the second-highest volume living liver donor program in the United States and they are the only program in Texas performing living liver transplantation for children. The transplant team was also recently recognized by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipientsfor stellar lung transplant outcomes.