The University of Kansas Hospital is expanding its kidney transplant services to Wichita.
Patients will still have to drive to Kansas City for surgery, but the clinic at 8533 E. 32nd St. North will spare patients the drive for pre- and post-treatment care.
The Wichita clinic started accepting patients after its soft opening on Feb. 2. On Wednesday, it held a ribbon cutting for the new kidney transplant clinic.
Dennis McCulloch, director of public and government relations for the hospital, said the clinic expects to receive about 300 patient visits per year. A typical transplant patient would be seen two to four times prior to surgery and five or more times after surgery, depending on complications, according to McCulloch.
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McCulloch said the clinic’s medical professionals have seen several dozen patients since the opening, but he couldn’t offer a specific number.
“The clinic will allow patients less travel and better access to one of the best transplant centers in the region,” said Timothy Schmitt, program director of the University of Kansas Hospital Center for Transplantation.
Most of the transplant health care providers will commute from the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City.
“I think it’s feasible in the future to have a full-time physician group out here that will do the evaluations and follow up,” Schmitt said.
The University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City is the only center for kidney transplant surgery in the state, Schmitt said. Last year, the hospital completed 127 kidney transplants and 106 liver transplants.
According to data from the hospital, the state has 469 names on its kidney transplant list, and about 30 percent of those patients are from the Wichita area.
Schmitt and other clinic organizers said they hope to expand the Wichita services for liver transplant patients in the future.
Pooja Budhiraja, a nephrologist – a kidney medical specialist – who will commute to the Wichita clinic from Kansas City, said that although wait times are nationally determined, the added Wichita clinic will allow patients to get placed on the active waiting list sooner.
The clinic got a patient placed on the active waiting list within a week, a process that often takes months, she said.
Reach Gabriella Dunn at 316-268-6400 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Gabriella_Dunn.
By the numbers
Transplants at the University of Kansas Hospital in 2014:
▪ 106 liver transplants
▪ 127 kidney transplants
▪ 5 kidney-pancreas transplants
Patients on the waiting lists right now:
▪ 469 kidney patients
▪ 148 liver patients