FORT MYERS, Fla. Gulf Coast Medical Center is bringing back one of its kidney donation programs two years after a patient died on the operating table.
The live donor program was put on hold in April 2015, shortly after 40-year-old Cape Coral resident Jamie Donaldson died during a donation procedure. He planned to give the organ to his father, whose own procedure was successful.
The deceased donor program, in which recipients receive kidneys from cadavers, was shut down a year later. That’s the program the Lee Health-affiliated hospital is bringing back now.
“We are ready to go. We are now a safe, state of the art center completely committed to the care of transplant patients,” new Program Director Dr. Lynsey Biondi said. “And we will do everything in our power to take the very best care of you.”
The hospital invested nearly $3 million dollars to overhaul the program. It hired new doctors, retrained staff and added new technology.
“It’s been extensive,” Biondi said. “From the ground floor up, we have rebuilt this program.”
Between 30 and 50 transplants were performed at Gulf Coast each year before the program was shut down. It was the only donation facility between Miami and Tampa.
“Our first duty and one of the most important things we did was refer those patients to other centers,” Dr. Biondi said. “Unfortunately it meant those people had to drive, but we’ve had several dozen patients get transplanted at other centers over the past year.”
The hospital’s goal is to perform 10 transplants this year, and it hopes to restart its live donation program later in 2017.