Norfolk girl first to get organ transplant through new partnership between UVA and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – A 13-year-old Norfolk girl recently became the first patient to receive a transplant in a new liver transplant partnership between Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital.

India Johnson suffered from two rare generic diseases that caused her liver and kidneys to fail.  On February 11, her mother, Melody Johnson, contacted the Charles O. Strickler Transplant Center at UVA, the only comprehensive transplant center in Virginia.

It was the same day that UVA’s partnership with Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh was announced.

The partnership was established to expand UVA’s pediatric liver transplant program and increase access to care for transplant patients throughout Virginia. Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC transplant surgeons consult with UVA counterparts and with Virginia-based patients via teleconsult. Once organs become available, a team of nurses, surgeons and specialists from Pittsburgh travel to UVA to perform the transplant alongside UVA transplant surgeons.

India and her mother, Melody Johnson, traveled to Charlottesville for evaluation with the UVA team in person and the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC team via telemedicine.

“The team was so confident in what they could do, it made me confident,” Melody Johnson said. “I was really comfortable with the facility and the people.”

India received a new liver and a new kidney on May 17th, just two weeks after she was added to the national organ transplant list.  She’s reportedly recovering very well.

(India Johnson ; Courtesy: GoFundMe)

(India Johnson ; Courtesy: GoFundMe)

“We’re so pleased that India received her transplant closer to home with exceptional care from UVA and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC,” said Kenneth Brayman, MD, PhD, FACS, division chief of transplant surgery and director of the Charles O. Strickler Transplant Center at UVA.

“We’re honored that India and her family entrusted her care to us and we’re very pleased with her progress so far,” said George V. Mazariegos, M.D., director of pediatric transplantation at the Hillman Center for Pediatric Transplantation at Children’s. “She represents the beginning of an important collaboration between our transplant program and our colleagues at UVA. Working together, we plan to greatly enhance this region’s organ transplant capabilities so that families from Virginia can remain close to home and still get the highest level of pediatric transplant care available in the country.”

“India’s transplant experience is a remarkable example of UVA working with partners to provide the highest level of specialty care to the citizens of the commonwealth,” Richard P. Shannon, MD, executive vice president for health affairs at UVA.

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