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Liver Transplant Program Established at Montefiore

Area Residents Gain Access to High Quality Care as State Approves Only Program in the Bronx 

New York, NY  (August 20, 2008) - Patients who suffer from severe liver disease and need a liver transplant will no longer have to seek that highly specialized surgery and critically important follow-up care outside the borough of the Bronx.  Area patients and their families now have access to this high quality care locally, without having to travel long distances, as a result of the New York State Department of Health's approval of the first and only liver transplant program in the Bronx, at Montefiore Medical Center.

"The liver transplantation program at Montefiore Medical Center fills a significant, unmet medical need for people who live in the Bronx and suffer from end-stage liver disease," said Steven M. Safyer, MD, president and CEO of Montefiore.

"The Bronx has one of the highest rates of liver disease in the country and the highest rate of liver disease in New York State," said Dr. Safyer.  "Until now, patients in the Bronx and surrounding areas who had liver disease had to travel outside of the borough to receive care, which was an additional burden on them and their families.

"Our liver transplant program now allows these patients to be cared for closer to home, by a team of professionals with an incredible amount of experience and expertise in all aspects of liver care," said Dr. Safyer.

The liver transplant program is part of the Montefiore-Einstein Liver Center and is supported by a research component from Albert Einstein College of Medicine's National Institutes of Health-funded Liver Center.

"We have a world class team of surgeons and liver specialists with a wide range of experience in treating and researching severe liver disease," said Milan Kinkhabwala, MD, chief of transplantation and director of abdominal organ transplantation at Montefiore. "More than 120 Bronx patients were waiting for liver transplants in 2007, and approximately 50 local residents had no choice but to seek a liver transplant outside the borough last year," said Dr. Kinkhabwala.   

While there are more than 2,300 people statewide currently waiting for a liver transplant, statistics for New York State show that risk factors for liver disease are significantly higher for residents of the Bronx when compared to other areas of the state.

Doctors at Montefiore believe there is actually 10 times the recorded number of people in the Bronx with serious liver problems.  Montefiore's unique capabilities as an academic medical center help address these problems through community-based outreach, patient and physician education and the patient care provided by a nationally recognized team of liver specialists.  Thousands of patients suffering from serious liver diseases including Hepatitis C, cirrhosis and cancer are treated annually at Montefiore.

"We have found there is a greater rate of alcohol use, intravenous drug use and confounding variables like malnutrition and diminished access to health care here in the Bronx," said Paul Gaglio, MD, a nationally known liver expert and medical director of Montefiore's Liver Transplant Program.  "The number of hospitalizations for liver-related diagnoses in Bronx-area hospitals has increased substantially, magnifying the importance of having an easily accessible local liver transplant center in the Bronx," said Dr Gaglio.

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