March 29, 2004

Debbie Neufert
Media Relations, LHSC
519-685-8500, ext. 74772

First kidney-pancreas transplant at LHSC

(LONDON, Ontario) - A Sarnia woman's diabetes is cured and her kidney function restored after the first kidney-pancreas transplant at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC). The surgery is a milestone for LHSC's Multi-Organ Transplant Program, which received provincial funding in the fall of 2003 to become the second site in Ontario for kidney-pancreas transplants.

Dr. Patrick Luke and Dr.Vivian McAlister were the surgeons who completed LHSC's first kidney-pancreas transplant. "For patients with diabetes and kidney failure, a successful kidney-pancreas transplant will dramatically improve their lives," said Dr. Patrick Luke, LHSC urologist. Luke adds, "A new pancreas provides regulated insulin production and cures their diabetes, and the new kidney eliminates the need for dialyisis. It's a wonderful example of how organ donation can change peoples lives."

Tossa Vollrath had Type 1 diabetes for 20 years prior to her kidney-pancreas transplant. The diabetes had compromised her kidney function. As a result, she required peritoneal dialysis, which meant hooking up to a dialysis machine each night in order to clean her blood. She was also on insulin to help manage her diabetes. "My life has totally changed since the transplant, it has given me so much freedom," said Tossa Vollrath. Vollrath also said, "Traveling is so much easier now, and I no longer have to be home at a certain time each night to start my dialysis, and I no longer need to worry about my blood sugar levels. It's real peace of mind for my family too."

"For the transplant team, the addition of kidney-pancreas transplants adds another dimension to an already comprehensive transplantation program, which currently performs approximately 200 transplants each year in the areas of heart, liver, kidney, bone marrow and multi-visceral transplantation," said Dr. William Wall, director of LHSC's Multi-Organ Transplant Program.

"This landmark kidney-pancreas transplant is a testament to the provincial, national and international stature of LHSC's transplant team," said Tony Dagnone, LHSC president and chief executive officer. Dagnone also said, "We are proud of our highly skilled health care professionals in LHSC's transplant program and the excellent care they provide for the people of London and Southwestern Ontario."

Dr. Patrick Luke is also a scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute and an assistant professor of surgery at The University of Western Ontario. Dr.Vivian McAlister is a scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute and a professor of surgery at Western.


London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is one of Canada's largest acute-care teaching hospitals and is dedicated to excellence in patient care, teaching and research. LHSC has pioneered many national and international medical breakthroughs. Located in London, Ontario, LHSC has three sites - University Campus, the South Street Site, and Victoria Campus, along with two Family Medical Centres and the London Regional Cancer Centre. LHSC is the home of the Children's Hospital of Western Ontario and CSTAR (Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics). The research arm of LHSC is Lawson Health Research Institute, which is also partnered with London's other hospital, St. Joseph's Health Care, London. LHSC is affiliated with the University of Western Ontario. Physicians and staff at LHSC number close to 8,000 and together they provide care for more than 600,000 patients each year.