Abdominal Transplant
Abdominal Transplantation

The Department of Transplantation at Nationwide Children’s offers specialized and comprehensive care to children and adolescents. In 2016, Kenneth Washburn, MD, joined Nationwide Children’s as section chief of Transplantation and director of the Abdominal Transplant Program. He is also executive director of the Ohio State Comprehensive Transplant Center and the Division of Transplantation Surgery at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (OSUWMC).

In his role at Nationwide Children’s, Dr. Washburn will build onto the successful pediatric kidney transplant program to establish comprehensive liver transplant services.

We are excited to build a program to offer a full continuum of hepatology and liver transplant care for our pediatric population. The complex care required for these patients is supported by close collaboration with many departments including Pediatric Surgery, Gastroenterology and Nephrology.
Kenneth Washburn, MD
Chief of Transplantation

Dr. Washburn and his colleagues are also committed to transplant outcomes research. Dr. Washburn comes from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio where his former program’s outcomes were among the best in the nation.

“Research related to transplant outcomes is important to the success of any program and to advancing transplant outcomes for patients everywhere,” says Dr. Washburn. “At Nationwide Children’s we are building a full-service academic program that will include research and teaching.”

Through the Kidney Transplant Program, living and cadaveric renal transplants for infants, children and adolescents are performed in partnership with The Ohio State University Comprehensive Transplant Center, providing a full continuum of care to patients as they age.

“Our kidney transplant outcomes meet or exceed the expected outcomes of the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients,” says Amer Rajab, MD, PhD, associate professor of Surgery at OSUWMC and surgical director of Pediatric Transplant Surgery at Nationwide Children's. “We have a long history of successful kidney transplants.”

Giving Brielle a New Kidney

Brielle, a spunky 4-year-old with pigtails, holds up the sign written in purple block letters: “Cancer took my kidneys, but it didn’t take ME.”

When she was 11 months old, Brielle was diagnosed with Wilms' tumor in both kidneys. The kidneys were removed four months later, and she began dialysis four times a week with the hope of eventually getting a transplant. After being cancer-free for two years, Brielle became a candidate for kidney transplant.

“Pediatric kidney transplants are not common, but when they are needed it is a big issue and the result of a big disease,” says Dr. Rajab. “In cases like Brielle’s, a tumor causes the loss of the kidneys. For other children, congenital disease, urology malanatomy or other disease results in the need for a kidney transplant.”

At Nationwide Children’s, about 80 percent of patients who receive a kidney transplant receive one from a live donor — often a family member. In Brielle’s case, neither of her parents were a match. The wait for a cadaveric organ or volunteer donor began.

Brielle’s mother created a Facebook page chronicling Brielle’s illness and updating her progress. Then something completely unexpected happened: A friend from the church Brielle’s family attended, a man they had spoken to several times but didn’t know well, offered to donate one of his kidneys. Tim had seen Brielle’s Facebook page and the various photos of her in the hospital. A father of three, he explained to Brielle’s mother, Alysia, that he would have wanted someone to do the same if one of his kids needed a kidney.

“It’s very humbling. What do you even say to something like that?” Alysia said.

In July of 2015, Brielle finally received her kidney.

After surgery, a couple of days before her expected release from the hospital, Brielle spiked a fever and struggled to breathe. She was diagnosed with acute tubular necrosis, a disorder in which tissues of the kidney tubule, become damaged or destroyed.

“Brielle’s care after surgery was complicated. But we follow our patients very closely before, during and after surgery. The nephrologists are involved in care throughout,” says Dr. Rajab. “We were able to manage the tubular necrosis and after a few additional weeks of hospitalization, Brielle was able to go home.”

At home, Brielle has continued to recover. She no longer needs dialysis and is learning how to tolerate food in her mouth, having been tube-fed for most of her life. And while they are aware of the life-long challenges of being a transplant recipient, for now Brielle’s parents are savoring the changes they’ve seen in her.

“She’s been incredibly healthy this year,’’ Alysia said. “She’s been, by far, the healthiest she’s ever been.”

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