By David Weill, MD, Posted

Quantity is a key indicator of program experience. Quality of transplant outcomes, however, equates to program excellence.

The Toronto Star recently announced that Toronto General Hospital performed 639 adult transplants last year, the most of any center in North America, see article here: https://bit.ly/2Gz521c . That number is huge and includes heart, lung, liver, and kidney transplants. That’s quite an accomplishment – just to put that achievement into context the UCLA Medical Center was second in volume, performing 607 adult transplants, and the University of California San Francisco Medical Center came next with 601. Digging deeper into the numbers, Toronto did 167 lung transplants, making it the largest lung transplant program in the world. A lung transplant nearly every other day for an entire year – I get tired just thinking about it. Congratulations to the Toronto team! I know many members of their team, and they are outstanding and dedicated to advancing the field.

While high transplant volumes are great, the number of transplants performed is not the only measure of the success of a transplant program. Quality means so many things: what are the outcomes of the people who get transplanted, how many people die while on the waiting list, and how long patients stay in the hospital after their transplant, just to name a few parameters that need to be explored. In very general terms though, places that do a lot of transplants usually do them well. But, as a patient looking for a high quality transplant center, that doesn’t mean you can stop investigating a program because the volume is high in a particular program. Do your homework and look beyond the volume number. You’ll be glad you did.