Lee Memorial revamps transplant program after donor death

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FORT MYERS, Fla.- Lee Memorial Health System’s controversial kidney donation transplant program will be rebuilt following the death of a donor, medical staff announced on Friday.

The hospital plans to move the transplant program, which is currently shut down, from a private practice to a complete in-hospital team. Four additional staff members will also be added.

There are currently about 300 patients scheduled for transplant surgery at Gulf Coast Medical Center but the hospital says the re-build is critical to patient safety.

“In reality, if we’re only closed one to three months, that’s not that many transplants that would’ve happened anyway so we’re hoping that it’s not going to effect too may people,” said Lynsey Biondi, director of transplantation services. “I understand that it is an emotional thing and we’re sorry for that, but I honestly believe this is for the best interest of the patients to keep them safe until we re-build this team.”

The hospital is working to transfer those patients to other transplant center hospitals. Staff members are preparing to start transplants on the deceased in a few months, but no timeline was given for the return of live transplants.

The total investment to re-build the program is about $4 million.

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