U Magazine
U Magazine
UCLA Health
David Geffen School of Medicine

Brave New World

John C. Mazziotta, MD, PhD
Photo: Ann Johansson

Transplantation is among medicine’s most daring procedures, and UCLA continues to amass achievement in this leading-edge sphere.

UCLA Health reached an extraordinary milestone this June, when Dr. Ronald W. Busuttil and the team of the UCLA Liver Transplant Program performed their 6,000th liver transplant. This achievement has been three decades in the making. Dr. Busuttil launched the UCLA Liver Transplant Program in 1984, when liver transplantation still was considered experimental. At that time, there was only one significant program in the United States, at the University of Pittsburgh, and a smattering of smaller centers elsewhere in the country. The immediate success of UCLA’s program established it as the first successful liver-transplant center west of the Mississippi. Just 10 years later, UCLA surpassed Pittsburgh to become the largest and most active liver-transplant center in the country — a position it still holds.

It is remarkable to consider that in the 32 years since its inception, the UCLA Liver Transplant Program has performed roughly one liver transplant every other day. By any measure, that is a noteworthy feat, and it exemplifies our commitment to working on the leading-edge of clinical care and research to advance treatments and cures to benefit society.

The liver-transplant program is just one of our advanced transplantation programs that together make UCLA among the leading transplant centers in the United States. Like our liver program, our lung-transplantation program is among the country’s most successful and the busiest thoracic-transplant program on the West Coast. It completed its 1,000th transplant in September 2016. Similarly, we are national leaders in heart transplantation, with outcomes that are among the best in the world. Our kidney program is ranked No. 1 on the National Kidney Registry’s list of top transplant centers for living-donor transplants, and we have been an innovator in developing programs to increase the pool of potential donors.

All told, UCLA has programs for adults and children in 10 transplant areas: auto islet; bone marrow/stem cell; kidney; cornea; heart; intestine; liver; lung; pancreas; and our newest program, vascular composite allotransplantation for hand, face and abdominal-wall tissues (in 2011, we performed the first hand transplant in the western United States and are preparing for our first face transplant).

We are tremendously proud of these outstanding programs and of the physicians and staff who support them, and we are grateful to the many experts from other subspecialties who provide consultation to enhance the clinical success of all the transplant programs. Their efforts not only lead to extended and healthier lives for our immediate patients, but the research they conduct also has led to the development of new and effective surgical techniques, immunosuppressive regimens and protocols for the treatment of rejection and other critical medical complications of transplantation. The brave new world of transplantation continues to evolve, and we are blessed to be among the leading institutions working toward advancing that world.

I WANT TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY to announce that Kelsey C. Martin, MD, PhD, has been appointed dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Dr. Martin is a renowned scientist who has been a valuable member of the UCLA family since 1999. For the past year, she has served as interim dean; we are very proud she now will assume the permanent position.

Signature, Dr. Mazziotta

John C. Mazziotta, MD (RES ’81, FEL ’83), PhD
Vice Chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences
CEO, UCLA Health


Add a comment

Please note that we are unable to respond to medical questions. For information about health care, or if you need help in choosing a UCLA physician, please contact UCLA Physician Referral Service (PRS) at 1-800-UCLA-MD1 (1-800-825-2631) and ask to speak with a referral nurse. Thank you.