Pediatric transplants began in 1977 at Veterans Hospital in Puerto Rico, later in 1983 Auxilio Mutuo Hospital started a transplant program to help young patients suffering from end stage kidney failure. This expansion allowed many children, some who had been on dialysis for more than five years, to be transplanted.
From January 2018 to March 2021, 18 pediatric transplants have been successfully performed. Currently, in Puerto Rico there are 6,000 adults and 22 pediatric patients receiving dialysis treatment, most of whom are on the national transplant waiting list and in need of a kidney. In the LifeLink of Puerto Rico (LLPR) service area, which comprises Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, pediatric transplantation is performed in patients between the ages of three and 21, who weigh at least 22 pounds (10 kg) and are over two and a half feet tall.
According to the pediatric nephrologist and Director of the Pediatric Renal Transplant Center Program, Dr. Nilca De Jesús, “The work of the LifeLink of Puerto Rico team is essential to have donors available to perform transplants.” De Jesús described the collaboration between LLPR and the Pediatric Transplant Center of Auxilio Mutuo Hospital as ‘fantastic and cool’. Dr. De Jesus shared, “It is a symbiotic relationship in which 18 families have benefited from this gift of life through pediatric transplantation.” The goal of the Auxilio Mutuo Transplant Center is to reduce the evaluation process from six to three months so that patients can go directly to transplant surgery.
LifeLink encourages everyone interested in saving lives to register their donation decision at https://www.lifelinkfoundation.org/organ-donation/.