NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medicine Launch Living Donor Liver Transplant Program

Feb 20, 2018

New York

Transparent body with highlighted liver

To expand access to life-saving liver transplants for those in need, NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medicine have unveiled a new living donor liver transplant program. It performed its first such transplant with success in late January. The center received certification in May 2017 by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which oversees all organ transplant programs in the country and regulates which programs can perform such surgeries.

“This is a significant achievement, one that will allow us to make a difference in the lives of more transplant patients,” said Dr. Laura Forese, executive vice president and chief operating officer at NewYork-Presbyterian. “We look forward to offering the most advanced level of care and helping more patients gain access to these life-saving surgeries.”

“Living donor transplantation is a medical advance that underscores our mission to provide the very best clinical care to our patients,” said Dr. Peter Schlegel, senior associate dean for clinical affairs at Weill Cornell Medicine. “We’re truly gratified to be able to offer a procedure that will extend and enhance the lives of those who are in critical need.”

“So many people are desperately in need of a liver transplant. We’re excited to broaden our transplant program to save more lives,” said Dr. Benjamin Samstein, chief of liver transplantation and hepatobiliary surgery in the Department of Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medicine, surgical director of the living donor liver transplant program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and an associate professor of surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine. “Having a newly certified living donor transplant center in New York City, which has a particularly high number of recipients on the waiting list, is hugely important for patients.”

The new program, along with The Center for Liver Disease Transplantation, a comprehensive, multi-campus center built on the collaboration of Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, now offers donors fully laparoscopic surgery. This method cuts recovery time in half, making NewYork-Presbyterian one of the few hospital systems in the nation to offer fully laparoscopic living donor liver transplants. It also leads the country in techniques to minimize the amount of liver removed from the donor to increase the safety of the donation operation. Because of the liver’s unique ability to regenerate, the partial livers of both the donor and recipient will grow to form near-complete organs, regaining size and function within eight weeks. Adult and child recipients paired with a living donor see an improved survival rate, compared to deceased donor transplants, and the wait for transplant surgery is much shorter.

One important aspect of NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell and Weill Cornell Medicine’s new designation is the potential to offer living donation “exchanges,” in collaboration with NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, which is also a UNOS-designated living liver donation center. Similar to kidney donation exchanges or “swaps,” living liver donation chains pair interested donors with recipients, allowing those who may not be perfectly compatible with their loved one to essentially trade with another liver donor and recipient, so everyone’s medical needs are met.

“Living donation is becoming an increasingly popular option for patients on the transplant waiting list, as advances in the approach have made the procedure easier for both donors and patients. We’re so proud to offer patients in New York greater access to this option,” said Dr. Robert Brown, medical director of the living donor program at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell and Weill Cornell Medicine. Dr. Brown, who is the Gladys and Roland Harriman Professor of Medicine and clinical chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Weill Cornell Medicine, previously served as the chair for the UNOS Living Donor Committee, which develops policies and guidance for the national network relating to living donor issues.

In order to be designated as a living donor center, UNOS mandates that the program meet certain requirements regarding the facility and the expertise of physicians and surgeons involved. For the living donor program, UNOS focuses on training and experience in living donor organ recovery and post-transplant care of living donors. NewYork-Presbyterian’s Center for Liver Disease Transplantation has the most experience with living donor liver transplants on the East Coast over the past 10 years, with excellent outcomes.

For more information about living liver donation, visit


NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the nation’s most comprehensive, integrated academic healthcare delivery systems, whose organizations are dedicated to providing the highest quality, most compassionate care and service to patients in the New York metropolitan area, nationally, and throughout the globe. In collaboration with two renowned medical schools, Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, NewYork-Presbyterian is consistently recognized as a leader in medical education, groundbreaking research and innovative, patient-centered clinical care.

NewYork-Presbyterian has four major divisions:

  • NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is ranked #1 in the New York metropolitan area by U.S. News and World Report and repeatedly named to the Honor Roll of “America’s Best Hospitals.”
  • NewYork-Presbyterian Regional Hospital Network comprises hospitals and other facilities in the New York metropolitan region.
  • NewYork-Presbyterian Physician Services, which connects medical experts with patients in their communities.
  • NewYork-Presbyterian Community and Population Health, encompassing ambulatory care network sites and community healthcare initiatives, including NewYork Quality Care, the Accountable Care Organization jointly established by NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia.

For more information, visit and find us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Weill Cornell Medicine

Weill Cornell Medicine is committed to excellence in patient care, scientific discovery and the education of future physicians in New York City and around the world. The doctors and scientists of Weill Cornell Medicine — faculty from Weill Cornell Medical College, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, and Weill Cornell Physician Organization—are engaged in world-class clinical care and cutting-edge research that connect patients to the latest treatment innovations and prevention strategies. Located in the heart of the Upper East Side's scientific corridor, Weill Cornell Medicine's powerful network of collaborators extends to its parent university Cornell University; to Qatar, where Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar offers a Cornell University medical degree; and to programs in Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Weill Cornell Medicine faculty provide comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian Queens. Weill Cornell Medicine is also affiliated with Houston Methodist. For more information, visit

Media Contact:

  Mahlori Isaacs       212-543-8757       [email protected]

  Anna Sokol       646-962-9472       [email protected]