University of Colorado Hospital Transplant Center Celebrates its 2,000th liver transplant

The University of Colorado Hospital Transplant Center and partners Children’s Hospital Colorado are now celebrating a combined 2,000th liver transplant.
March 19, 2015

AURORA, Colo. — The University of Colorado Hospital Transplant Center and partners Children’s Hospital Colorado are now celebrating a combined 2,000th liver transplant.

The first liver transplant in the world was performed at the University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) in 1963 by Dr. Thomas Starzl.  Dr. Igal Kam, Transplant Surgical Director for UCH, reestablished the liver transplant program in 1988.  Since then, UCH has performed over 1,800 adult liver transplants.

Dr. Frederick (Fritz) Karrer pioneered the transplant program at Children’s Colorado, which has performed over 200 pediatric liver transplants.  The success of these programs is shown by the patients whose lives are improved and/or extended after they’ve received a life-saving liver transplant.

A liver transplant is a complex surgery that requires a multidisciplinary approach both before the operation and for many years after the transplant.  This multidisciplinary transplant team at UCH includes Director of Hepatology, Dr. Gregory Everson, anesthesia, surgeons, OR nurses, transplant coordinators and many other specialists.

One of the earliest adult patients, Mary Zamora Thompson, still lives in the Denver metro area and is doing wonderfully.  She’s in her early 70’s and credits the past 26 years of her life to her liver transplant.  Her goal back then was to see her oldest daughter graduate from high school.  In addition to the graduation, she’s been able to enjoy being a grandmother of two.

Evelyn Rivera, one of our most recent liver transplant patients, is extremely grateful for the care she’s received under the expertise of the entire transplant team. She is excited to be part of the 2,000th landmark number.

Dr. Kam and his team have performed a significant number of these transplants over the past 27 years.  “The number of liver transplants performed at both hospitals is a milestone we should all be proud of,” said Kam.  “It takes a large team of multidisciplinary specialists to operate a successful transplant center, and I thank the dedicated experts for providing excellent care for these patients before, during and after their surgeries.”

The UCH Transplant Center performs both live-donor and deceased-donor liver transplants.

While the Transplant Center is celebrating this milestone, many more patients are currently waiting for a liver transplant. Nationally, the liver transplant wait list includes 15,840 people.  In Colorado, 699 people are waiting for a liver and UCH has 564 of those patients on the list.

More than 2,500 Coloradans are currently waiting for a lifesaving transplant. Register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor at the Driver’s License Office or online anytime at

About University of Colorado Hospital

University of Colorado Hospital is the Rocky Mountain region’s leading academic medical center.  UCH is best known as an innovator in patient care and often as one of the first hospitals to bring new medicine to the patients’ bedside.  University HealthSystem Consortium named UCH the #1 Academic Medical Center in quality in the nation in both 2011 and 2012, and U.S. News & World Report named University of Colorado Hospital the best hospital in Colorado in 2012 and 2013.  UCH is one of five Colorado hospitals that make up University of Colorado Health.  The hospital’s physicians are affiliated with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, part of the University of Colorado system.  Based on the expansive Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO, the hospital is where patient care, research and education converge to establish the future of health care delivery.