UPMC Altoona Opens Transplant Clinic

Published 07/29 2014 05:32PM

Updated 07/29 2014 06:05PM

ALTOONA - People who need a kidney transplant or who've already undergone one, can now receive much of their medical care without leaving the area.

UPMC Altoona unveiled its new Kidney Transplant Clinic at Station Medical Center, on Tuesday. It's designed to provide the same pre-and post-transplant care patients receive at the transplant center in Pittsburgh.

Dr. Amit Tevar is the surgical director of Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation at UPMC. He and his staff travel once a month to the satellite transplant office in Altoona to see patients. Some, like Dale Barnes from Duncansville are undergoing screening for a kidney transplant, a complicated process, that used to involve regular trips to Pittsburgh.

"You're there for 4,5,6 hours, who knows, you never know, so you got a pretty big day involved and you're usually always tired when you're done," he says.

Dr. Tevar says patients like Dale can receive most of their pre-testing at the Station Medical Center and go to UPMC in Pittsburgh for the operation itself.

"I like to say it requires a village to get someone to transplant and through transplant," the surgeon says. "It involves being seen by a transplant surgeon, transplant nephrologist, a social worker, a behavioral specialist, and a transplant coordinator, and to maximize patient time, we do most of their testing right here."

Patients like Gloria Bosh, who's 14 years out from her transplant can their follow-up care, close to home.

"I was very happy to hear there's a clinic here. I did a real happy dance," the Duncansville woman says.
According to Dr Tevar, nearly 200 patients in the area being evaluated for or who've had a transplant can receive their care in Altoona.

The clinic sees only kidney and pancreas transplant patients and evaluates potential live donor kidney patients, but plans to add liver patients in the fall.  The team will also double its visits to twice a month.

Dr Tevar predicts that having the transplant clinic in our region will result in more local patients making the transplant list.

Dale expects to be one of them in the near future. "Exciting is a very good term for it, yes, especially when it's part of your body that your really need," he says, laughing.

The new clinic in Altoona opened June 10. UPMC Altoona President Jerry Murray says it's a tangible example of what the relationship with UPMC means to the region, and he promises that many more advances will follow.


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