Amid pandemic, doctors at Baylor Scott and White - Temple perform record number of transplants

Posted at 7:22 PM, Feb 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-19 08:10:42-05

Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in Temple set a record.

Even while balancing extra demands from COVID-19, the doctors were able to help nearly 200 patients receive a life-saving organ transplant in 2021. This is a 25 percent increase from their previous record, which was set in 2017.

Kevin Allen from Abilene was one of 167 kidney transplant patients at the medical center last year. He and his wife, Linda, explain their reaction when they were told that Kevin needed to go on dialysis and get put on a transplant list.

“We were floored. We had no idea that things had gotten bad so quickly,” explained Linda.

People often wait years to find a donor, but Linda wondered if she would be a match. She got tested and the results were positive.

“We couldn’t believe it. We are people of faith, and it was just an answer from God.”

Then, Linda says, they had another miracle. When doctors announced the surgery date — it was on her birthday.

“We were like what?! That’s my birthday. Yes! Yes! We just jumped up and down and cried and prayed.”

Baylor Scott and White Medical Center — Temple says there are a few reasons behind the increase. Among them: expanding staff, creating multiple donor matching programs, and a program called “Amy’s House” that gives patients and families from out of town a place to stay while they receive care.

“Central Texas is one of the fastest-growing areas in the country and I think this is just one demonstration that we will deliver,” said Transplant Director Dr. Tun Jie.

The center had patients come from different parts of Texas, and even different parts of the country to get a transplant. One patient traveled from Los Angeles. In a press release, Baylor Scott and White — Temple says it attracts many patients because of its shorter wait times (https://news.bswhealth.com/en-US/releases/a-new-record-nearly-200-patients-received-kidney-or-pancreas-transplants-at-baylor-scott-white-medical-center-temple-in-2021). According to the transplant center, its wait time is 11 months. According to the scientific registry of transplant recipients, other transplant centers in Texas and Oklahoma have a median time to transplant of 43.8 months.

The increase in transplants at Baylor Scott and White — Temple also reflects a national trend. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) reported more than 40,000 organ transplants in the U.S. in 2021 (https://unos.org/news/2021-all-time-records-organ-transplants-deceased-donor-donation/). That’s a national record. UNOS says the increase came from an increase in deceased donors. It’s the 11th year in a row that number has gone up.

Kevin Allen says he now feels like a new man. His wife says it was the best birthday gift either of them could have received.

“You know how can you thank someone for that? For the gift of life? You just can’t”