Henry Ford Transplant Institute Marks 50 Years

Delivering a half-century of hope through innovative and compassionate transplant care

Henry Ford Hospital brought the lifesaving option of organ transplants to the Detroit community on January 4, 1968, when a kidney transplant was performed by pioneering surgeons Drs. Emerick Szilagyi, Roger Smith, Joseph Elliot, A. Waite Bohne, Alejandro Gonzalez, Frederick W. Sherrin, and John H. Hageman.

Since that day, the Henry Ford Transplant Institute has performed more than 6,150 solid organ transplants and 1,250 bone marrow stem cell transplants. Along the way, Henry Ford transplant surgeons have pioneered many “firsts” in Michigan.

John's Story

For over 31 years, John Payne has lived with a donor heart. He is one of the longest surviving heart transplant recipients in the world.

Watch his story

The Henry Ford Transplant Institute is recognized for advancements in transplant, including:

  • specialized end-stage organ failure care, including new therapies to extend life and position patients for transplant
  • lifesaving devices as bridges to transplant
  • minimally invasive and robotic transplant surgeries, that reduce side effects and improve recovery
  • immunosuppression and anti-rejection therapies
  • Henry Ford’s Transplant Living Community, the first in the country offering peer-to-peer patient advocacy with a defined educational curriculum

Transplant through collaboration

The Henry Ford Transplant Institute is one of the most integrated, comprehensive transplant programs in the country. Every specialty that touches transplant – from anesthesia and infectious disease, to pharmacy, nursing, psychology, dietary and others, works together to create a unique, patient-focused care experience throughout the transplant journey.

Through our statewide outreach clinics, Henry Ford Transplant Institute teams perform adult and pediatric transplants that improve and extend life in communities throughout Michigan including Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Flint and Ypsilanti.

Expanding organ procurement and donation

Early on, Henry Ford Hospital established relationships with Harper Hospital in Detroit and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to formalize the Transplant Society of Michigan, later named Gift of Life – Michigan’s only federally designated organ and tissue recovery program.

To expand the pool of available organs, Henry Ford was an early adopter of organ donation after cardiac death and among the first institutions to utilize the latest perfusion systems that increase the viability of organs for transplant, such as ex-vivo lung perfusion (EVLP) and TransMedic liver perfusion.

Additionally, Henry Ford always has been a leader in expanding living donation. We are the largest center in Michigan for adult-to-adult living donor liver transplants. For kidney donation, we’ve pioneered minimally invasive and robotic kidney procurement, and participate in creative paired kidney exchanges.

Looking to the future, the Henry Ford Transplant Institute has established the Center for Living Organ Donation. Too often our living donors are the forgotten heroes in the transplant process. Our goal is to prepare them for the experience of donating a kidney or part of their liver, and support them throughout their physical and emotional recovery.

We also cannot talk about transplant without recognizing our deceased donor families, who deserve our gratitude. Without their decision to give the gift of life, 50 years of transplantation at the Henry Ford Transplant Institute would not have been possible.

Take the next step

Speak with a Transplant Institute specialist.