World Leaders in Transplant Research

Organ transplantation began at the University of Chicago Medicine when a doctor performed the first animal heart transplant nearly a century ago, which eventually earned him a Nobel Prize. Our history of transplant breakthroughs also includes:

  • Doctors performing the first segmental ("reduced size") liver transplant in the United States, the first split-liver transplant in the United States and the first successful living-donor transplant in the world.
  • Our physicians pioneered new ways to match donor kidneys with recipients. These techniques are now being adopted all over the country.

Advancing Care Through Transplant Clinical Trials

We frequently participate in important clinical trials of new treatments. Through our clinical trials, our doctors continue to develop new techniques to make treatments even safer and more effective in children.

Some of the research projects currently under way include:

Transplant Rejection

Research at UChicago Medicine on the monoclonal antibody OKT3 contributed to the drug's acceptance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. OKT3, which combats transplant rejection and dramatically improves graft survival rates, was used here for kidney transplant long before it was available at other hospitals.

Immunosuppressive Therapies

We remain at the forefront of developing immunosuppressive therapies. We are studying ways to create organ tolerance through strategies such as implanting additional sources of donor cells (such as bone fragments) that help to stabilize a recipient's immune system.

Matching Donors

We use new techniques for matching donor kidneys with recipients, including the use of a highly sensitive fluorescence activated cell sorter. This machine uses advanced technology to help ensure a good match between a donor and recipient. Very few centers provide this level of matching.

Preserving Organs

Our doctors have been working with other groups around the country to develop a device that will preserve organs for transplant without the need to ice them. This may help extend the precious hours before a transplant and minimize damage to the organ.