Florida hospital shuts down kidney transplant program

Fort Myers, Fla.-based Lee Health will permanently close the kidney program at Fort Myers-based Gulf Coast Medical Center in December, according to Fort Myers News-Press.

Patients were notified of the center's closing via letters Nov. 2. Gulf Coast Medical Center will transfer its patients to Tampa (Fla.) General Hospital. The patients can use another government-approved transplant center without losing their places in line.

Gulf Coast Medical Center is the only kidney center in southwest Florida and had a multimillion-dollar retooling in 2015 after a kidney donor's death.

Hospital administrators suspended the program in August due to a surgeon shortage. One of the transplant center surgeons, Jacfranz Guiteau, MD, left the center in July and its director, Lynsey Biondi, MD, left on personal leave. Dr. Biondi will be let go due to her position being eliminated.

The center's other transplant nephrologists, Gautham Mogilishetty, MD, and Shalini Saith, MD, will remain at Gulf Coast to consult transplant patients pre- and post-surgery, but will be employed by Tampa General's kidney program.

"Unfortunately, despite Lee Health's efforts, the program has faced many obstacles which make the program unsustainable," a letter cited by Fort Myers News-Press said. It also indicated Tampa General "will provide Southwest Florida residents with the opportunity to access Tampa General Hospital's excellent care and transplant services while receiving the majority of their care close to home."

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