Kidney Transplants Debut at Memorial Transplant Institute

Kidney transplantation arrived at Memorial Transplant Institute in February 2018 with a case that won a lot of admiring attention: a spouse-to-spouse organ donation. With Cesar Calle as a perfect match for his wife Monica, the five-hour procedure to remove his left kidney and transplant it into her went off without a hitch.

This first-ever Memorial kidney transplant came less than a year after Memorial received federal approval from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) to launch an adult and pediatric kidney transplant program at Memorial Regional Hospital.

“This case was the culmination of a year and a half of work, and a great way to open the doors for more transplants to come,” said Juan Arenas, MD, Chief of Transplant Institute and Surgical Director of Pediatric and Adult Surgical Kidney Transplant. Dr. Arenas works with a highly talented team of physicians – including Fernando E. Pedraza, MD, Alexandru Constantinescu, MD and Tjasa Hranjec, MD – advanced practice providers, nurses, social workers, nutritionists and laboratory medicine experts, who all participated in the husband-to-wife transplant.

Expectations are that the kidney transplant team will be able to perform about 30 transplants in its first year – “although our program seems to be growing at a faster pace than expected,” Dr. Arenas said. “With these new kidney transplantation services, we look forward to providing patients and families with patient-centered care – offering good-quality medical care based on excellent outcomes, quality and satisfaction.”

Prior to Memorial receiving federal approval, statistics showed that a large number of patients did not have sufficient access to kidney transplant services, and many had to seek services from outside South Florida and even out of state.

“Memorial Transplant Institute anticipates laying the groundwork for liver transplants in the next two years.”
Zeff Ross, FACHE

Executive Vice President, Memorial Healthcare System, and Chief Executive Officer, Memorial Regional Hospital


Memorial Performs First Kidney Transplant

When Monica and Cesar met 23 years ago, they fell in love and became a perfect match.

Their love for each other became Monica’s life-saving grace, when Cesar donated his kidney to her, making it the first kidney transplant for the new Memorial Transplant Institute.

The transplant team completed the five-hour procedure on February 19, a successful milestone for the new adult and pediatric transplant program providing South Florida residents greater access to quality kidney and heart transplant care.

“This is an amazing gift,” said Monica, shortly before going home four days after the surgery. “God put this man in my life for a reason. He saved my life.”

“We are so grateful to Memorial for everything that has been done,” Cesar said. “It’s a new start to her freedom.”