ISMETT’s Transplant Program Continues to Grow, Reach Milestones

By: Simona Abbro

UPMC-managed ISMETT, one of Europe’s leading organ transplant facilities, recently marked two major milestones: a revolutionary new transplant treatment and a record number of pediatric transplants.

ISMETT physicians performed two liver transplants on patients with large liver tumors treated with transarterial radioembolization (TARE), a nuclear medicine procedure that helps treat the tumor using radiotherapy. This operation was the first of its kind ever performed in Sicily.

“This minimally invasive technique allows us to target radiation directly to the tumor while limiting the exposure of healthy tissues and reducing the risk of tissue damage and the side effects for the patients,” said Dr. Roberto Virdone, hepatologist at Villa Sofia-Cervello Hospital in Palermo.

After successful surgeries, both patients are cancer-free and in good condition.

“We were able to accomplish this thanks to the collaboration between two multidisciplinary teams from two Sicilian centers of excellence,” said Dr. Salvatore Gruttadauria, director of ISMETT’s Department for the Treatment and Study of Abdominal Diseases and Abdominal Transplantation.

ISMETT’s second recent milestone involves its pediatric living donor liver transplant program. Over the past year,  a record 10 pediatric transplant patients at ISMETT have received transplants via a living donor, placing the hospital in Palermo among the most active transplant centers in Europe for this type of surgery.

ISMETT originally launched its pediatric liver transplant program in 2008, but in the past 12 months, the center’s activity has increased, thanks to Dr. Jean de Ville de Goyet, who became director of pediatric abdominal surgery about a year ago. In Italy, close to 65 percent of all pediatric living donor transplants have been performed by de Ville.

“At present, living donation is an increasingly available option,” he said. “It is an additional opportunity for children who otherwise would remain on the waiting list, putting their lives in danger if a life-saving organ does not become available in time. Modern transplant techniques are increasingly safe both for the donor and the recipient, allowing an almost 100 percent success rate.”

To learn more about ISMETT’s transplant program, click here.

To get more stories like this directly to your inbox, subscribe to our weekly Inside Life Changing Medicine newsletter at