Downstate's Kidney Transplant Program Serves New York's Diverse Communities

By Office of the President | Mar 5, 2024

Dr. Caroline Rochon

Caroline Rochon, M.D.

As a halo program in a public-serving safety net hospital, the kidney transplant program at University Hospital at Downstate stands as a beacon of hope and a model of health justice. Downstate is Brooklyn’s only academic medical center, and its hospital is the only hospital in the borough offering transplant surgery.

This program serves as a crucial lifeline for the diverse and often marginalized communities we serve. It is also a symbol of the advanced specialty care that Downstate is so well known for providing.

Caroline Rochon, M.D., a renowned expert in transplantation medicine and Chief of the Division of Transplantation Surgery, is committed to ensuring that everyone in Brooklyn has access to this life-saving care, no matter their income, race, or ethnicity.

Under Dr. Rochon’s leadership, Downstate’s program has achieved impressive outcomes. According to Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) data, our program transplants the highest percentage of Medicaid and minority patients in New York City. A third of our patients (31.7 percent) are Medicaid recipients, and the vast marjority (98.3 percent) are people of color. Almost all of our transplant patients have kidney failure due to diabetes or hypertension.

transplant word art

Our current results significantly outperform the national average. For the past two years, Downstate’s survival and post-surgical functioning kidney rates have been exemplary, while the mortality rate for patients on our waitlist is among the lowest. These data not only demonstrate the program’s effectiveness but also underscore our critical role in addressing healthcare inequities.

To accomplish this broad impact, Dr. Rochon and her team have spearheaded innovative strategies, notably the successful use of “overlooked kidneys.” These kidneys, often passed over by other centers due to various donor factors, are effectively used and implanted at Downstate.

Before a kidney is accepted and used as a donated kidney for transplant, the program conducts an exquisitely fine-tuned assessment to ensure functionality. Then, the kidney is meticulously matched to a recipient, maximizing the benefit and success of each transplant. Through this approach, transplant opportunities have dramatically increased for patients who would otherwise face long waiting times. After surgery, the program’s dedicated team provides exceptional post-transplant care and support.

In a city as diverse as New York, the importance of a program that not only saves lives but also upholds the values of equity and inclusion cannot be overstated.

To find out more about the innovations in Downstate’s Transplant Program, watch the video below.

Breaking Barriers to Transplantation from Listing to Follow-Up