The new chief of transplantation at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said Monday that UPMC did the right thing by scrutinizing how often recipients of a live-donor liver transplant run into problems.
Dr. Abhinav Humar praised UPMC for reviewing complications from the controversial procedure, which is one of his specialties. Dr. Thomas Starzl, a retired UPMC surgeon who performed the world's first liver transplant, initiated the review and said he expects it to show that 65 percent of recipients experience a serious complication.
"It's a matter of recognizing the complications and having a good handle on them," Humar said. "One of the good things that really came out of this is that Dr. Starzl made a good effort to quantify this in its completeness."
Humar's appointment, announced yesterday, follows a tumultuous period at UPMC's world-renowned transplant program. The center's most recent chief, Dr. Amadeo Marcos, resigned in March, one day before UPMC announced the live-donor liver transplant review.
The leadership upheaval at UPMC's transplant program came days before the Tribune-Review published a four-month investigation about liver transplants. The stories focused on surgeries that are performed on patients at the bottom of waiting lists and whose chances of dying increase with transplants.
Observers within the transplant community believe that Humar's appointment was made at a critical time for the program and that he has the qualities to succeed and move it forward.
"Dr. Humar is an up-and-coming, very highly regarded surgeon," said Dr. Goran Klintmalm, past president of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons and chief of transplantation at Baylor Transplant Institute in Dallas. "He is a very bright young man."
The Tribune-Review in October reported that Humar was one of three finalists for the job, which involves overseeing all clinical work as well as clinical research. The other candidates were Dr. Pierre-Alain Clavien and Dr. J. Wallis Marsh Jr., the interim chief since Marcos' departure.
Marsh wrote yesterday in an e-mail that he plans to stay at UPMC.
"Dr. Humar is a great person, and I'm pleased he accepted the position," Marsh said.
Although he has experience in the field of using live donors for liver transplants, Humar said he brings knowledge to UPMC from varying aspects of transplantation. He has spent …