Lack of surgeons forces Florida hospital to pause kidney transplants

Fort Myers (Fla.) based Gulf Coast Medical Center on July 25 suspended all kidney transplants until early December due to a lack of available transplant surgeons, according to Fort Myers News-Press.

Jacfranz Guiteau, MD, a kidney transplant specialist at Gulf Coast Medical Center will be leaving the program in the next few weeks, the hospital reported. The status of Lynsey Biondi, MD, the hospital's only other transplant surgeon and director of the kidney transplant program is unknown.

While Gulf Coast Medical Center will suspend the kidney transplant program Aug. 16, patients can still seek pre- and post-transplant care at the hospital during this time.

"We're not closing the entire program," Mary Briggs, a spokesperson for Fort Myers-based Lee Health, told Fort Myers News-Press. "You can still come in and see the nephrologist (kidney specialist) and be evaluated for a transplant, which takes several months anyway to go through that whole process."

The hospital's transplant program underwent a full shutdown and multimillion-dollar overhaul in 2015 after a kidney donor died from uncontrolled blood loss.

Gulf Coast Medical Center now only uses transplants from deceased donors.

"Patient safety is always the top priority at our transplant institute and I am proud of our 100 percent transplant success since the program reopened last year," Scott Nygaard, COO of Lee Health, told Fort Myers News-Press. "All of our patients will continue to receive compassionate pre- and post-transplant care and treatment, and we are dedicated to helping our current patients transfer their waitlist time to active transplant centers should they choose to do so."

The Kidney Transplant Institute at Gulf Coast Medical Center is one of nine programs in Florida and the only location between Tampa and Miami.

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