On Friday, March 21, at 12:30 p.m., MeritCare transplant surgeon Dr. Bhargav Mistry, and the first and 500th patient to receive transplants in Fargo will be available to be interviewed.
While the 500th transplant is a worthy reason to celebrate, it's also important to note that nationally, there are close to 100,000 people waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, including more than 2,500 in the Upper Midwest. According to LifeSource (the non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives through organ and tissue donation in the Upper Midwest), each day, 17 people die while waiting for a transplant simply because there are not enough organs available. A new name is added to the transplant waiting list every 13 minutes.
1989 - Transplantation Services of Fargo was formed as a joint kidney transplant program of:
- Fargo Clinic and St. Luke's Hospital (now MeritCare)
- Dakota Clinic Ltd. (now Innovis Health)
- Dakota Hospital (Dakota later partnered with Heartland Medical Center - formerly St. John's and St. St. Ansgar hospitals - to become Dakota Heartland Health System and then was later acquired by MeritCare)
1999 - Transplantation Services announced that after 10 years of performing kidney transplants, they would, for the time being, not perform surgeries because they had no transplant surgeon. In the 10-year history of the program, 184 kidney transplants were performed. At this time, Dakota Clinic withdrew from the partnership.
2000 - MeritCare launched MeritCare Transplant Services as a solo venture; transplant surgeon Dr. Bhargav Mistry joins staff.
2001- MeritCare becomes the first hospital in North Dakota to perform a pancreas transplant.
- The first simultaneous double transplant (kidney and pancreas) is performed at MeritCare.
- Surgeon Dr. Tim Monson joins the team and achieves a first by using a new minimally invasive surgical approach to remove a donor's kidney (laparoscopic donor nephrectomy) versus the traditional surgical approach.
- The first Good Samaritan kidney transplant is performed at MeritCare. The program allows "non-directed" kidney donations, where a Good Samaritan can donate a kidney to someone in need.
- The first international transplant occurs at MeritCare when a woman from Welland, Ont., donates a kidney to a man from Walhalla, N.D. that she had met over the Internet.
- MeritCare hosts a live, surgical webcast of a minimally invasive removal of a kidney for transplant. The webcast gave people anywhere in the world the opportunity to view transplant surgery in action.
2005, 2006 and 2007 - MeritCare receives the Health and Human Services (HHS) Medal of Honor Award. This prestigious award is presented to hospitals and organ procurement organizations that achieve life-saving organ donation rates of 75 percent or more for a sustained 12-month period; the national average donation rate in all hospitals in 2005 was 59 percent.
On Saturday, March 1, the first double-kidney transplant for one recipient at MeritCare. (When a single organ doesn't meet specific donation criteria, two organs are placed in one recipient to avoid wasting valuable organs.)
MeritCare's transplant program continues to meet the standards of care as required by monitoring agencies. The outcome of transplants performed at MeritCare is comparable to other transplant programs around the country.