UAMS Kidney, Liver Transplant Programs Again Rated Among Best in Nation

By Linda Satter

A January report by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) shows that both solid-organ programs scored five out of five bars — the highest score possible — for the speed at which patients obtained an organ from a deceased donor after getting on the waiting list.

This category has the largest impact on survival, according to the registry.

“We are thrilled that an unbiased national entity can see what we know firsthand: that our kidney and liver transplant programs are highly regarded, even among some of the largest medical centers in the country,” said Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, UAMS chancellor and CEO of UAMS Health.

At the behest of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, SRTR releases a report every January and July comparing the nation’s 256 kidney transplant programs and 150 liver transplant programs. The latest report covers the last six months of 2023.

In addition to receiving five bars for the speed of obtaining deceased-donor kidneys, the UAMS kidney program scored five bars for survivability one year after transplant. This placed it first in the country in the survivability category and fourth in the country overall.

UAMS’ liver transplant program also received five bars for the speed at which patients obtained a deceased-donor liver, ranking it second nationwide in that category, behind the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville and ahead of The Mayo Clinic Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida.

The UAMS liver transplant program, meanwhile, received four bars for patients’ survivability one year after transplant for the third consecutive rankings period. And in a third category that applies only to liver transplant programs — survival while on the waiting list — UAMS ranked first in the country. The Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix was second, and Methodist University Hospital in Memphis was third.

The overall rankings, which also consider patient volumes at each facility, place UAMS’ kidney transplant program fourth nationally, behind programs in New York, Florida and Cincinnati, respectively, even though all four places received five bars for both speed and survivability.

UAMS saw 163 kidney patients while New York University’s Langone Health transplant center in New York City treated 278, Health Shands Hospital in Florida saw 210 and the University of Cincinnati treated 193.

“A key element of the success of our transplant programs is the effective team structure at UAMS, enabling the delivery of world-class care comparable to any top-tier hospital in the United States,” said Lyle Burdine, M.D., Ph.D., director of solid organ transplants at UAMS. “Transplantation is a highly specialized field, inherently reliant on the seamless collaboration of various hospital departments.

“Patients requiring transplant services, or those who are potential candidates, often face complex health challenges that standard hospitals are not equipped to manage effectively,” he added. “At UAMS, from the moment these patients engage with our emergency department, wards, operating rooms or intensive care units, they benefit from the expertise of highly skilled care teams. These professionals are adept at managing the multifaceted health issues transplant patients frequently encounter, ensuring comprehensive and superior care at every stage. Any accolades of the UAMS transplant department reflect an unbiased assessment of the quality-of-care patients can receive at the institution and are reflection of all departments.”

UAMS has long provided the only adult liver and kidney transplant programs in Arkansas, and it recently became the first hospital in the state to perform kidney-pancreas transplants since the 1990s.

UAMS provides follow-up care for transplants on the Little Rock campus and at regional clinics in Fayetteville, Jonesboro, Texarkana, Pine Bluff, Fort Smith and Helena-West Helena, ensuring continuity of care statewide.

UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,275 students, 890 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 12,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children's, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube or Instagram.