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Nationally Recognized Transplant Surgeon Joins Tampa General Hospital and USF Health

Published: Feb 7, 2022

Dr. Anthony Watkins will help lead the way in furthering USF Health and Tampa General’s reputation as a leading academic medical center.

Tampa, FL (Feb. 7, 2022) – Dr. Anthony Watkins, a nationally recognized transplant surgeon, has been appointed surgical director of kidney transplant within the Transplant Institute at Tampa General Hospital (TGH), a national leader in life-saving organ transplants. Watkins will help lead the way in furthering Tampa General’s reputation as a leading academic medical center. He has also been appointed a clinical associate professor of surgery in the Department of Surgery at USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

“Tampa General Hospital is one of the top transplant programs in the country and we’ll continue to provide this potentially life-changing service at the highest level,’’ said Watkins, who was recruited by Tampa General from NYU Langone Health in New York, N.Y., where he was a clinical associate professor of surgery. Prior to that, he was an assistant professor of surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine, also in New York City. “I’m thrilled to be part of this dedicated group of people,’’ Watkins said. “The culture of a hospital is everything and this feels like a family environment. When a team works together, the quality of care is elevated and patients are able to sense that feeling of camaraderie, which in turn makes them more comfortable.”

Born in Nashville, Tenn., Watkins earned his medical degree from the University of Tennessee in 2002, followed by post-doctoral training, faculty and hospital positions in various centers around the state of New York. He has been involved in all aspects of the clinical care of liver, kidney and pancreas transplant patients, hepatobiliary (liver and bile duct), general and minimally invasive surgeries.

The practice of medicine runs in Watkins’ family. His grandfather is a retired cardiothoracic surgeon who was the chair of the Department of Surgery at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, Calif.  His uncle is an orthopedic surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and a cousin is a vascular surgeon in North Carolina. “I come from a family of healers,’’ he said. “It’s in our genes to go into health care and take care of patients.”

His roles have included preoperative/pre-transplant evaluation, operative surgery, peri-operative management, in-patient care, long-term follow-up, deceased donor organ procurement, and living donor nephrectomies. Additionally, he has been active in the revision and development of clinical protocols, as well as the implementation of quality assurance/performance improvement initiatives.

Watkins completed his transplant fellowship (abdominal multi-organ transplant surgery) at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center in New York, working with many pioneers in the field. He is board certified in general surgery by the American Board of Surgery and is accredited and certified by the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.

“Our national rankings showcase the expertise and advanced care Tampa General provides to our patients,” said Dr. Kiran Dhanireddy, executive director of Tampa General's Transplant Institute. “The addition of a surgeon leader of Dr. Watkins’ caliber to our Transplant Institute will further our vision to be the safest and most innovative academic health system in America.”

In 2020, Tampa General’s Kidney Transplant Program was ranked third in the nation by volume and in 2021, the TGH Transplant Institute performed 563 organ transplants. This is possible because the team is comprised of world-class specialists focused on providing individualized, ongoing care for patients with advanced kidney disease.

A kidney transplant is used to treat kidney failure (also called end-stage renal disease, ESRD), a condition in which kidneys can function at only a fraction of their normal capacity. People with end-stage kidney disease need either dialysis or a kidney transplant to stay alive. More than 90,000 Americans currently are waiting for a potentially life-saving kidney donation. Every 10 minutes, a person is added to the overall national transplant waiting list, and 82 percent of all patients waiting for an organ donation are in need of a kidney, according to Donate Life America, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Virginia.

To become an organ donor, Florida residents can visit Donate Life Florida.

To learn more about the Tampa General Transplant Institute, please visit:  https://www.tgh.org/services/transplant.

ABOUT TAMPA GENERAL HOSPITAL
Tampa General Hospital, a 1,041-bed non-profit academic medical center, is one of the largest hospitals in America and delivers world-class care as the region’s only center for Level l trauma and comprehensive burn care. Tampa General Hospital is the highest-ranked hospital in the market in
U.S. News & World Report's 2021-22 Best Hospitals, and one of the top 4 hospitals in Florida, with five specialties ranking among the best programs in the United States. The academic medical center’s commitment to growing and developing its team members is recognized by two prestigious 2021 Forbes magazine rankings – America’s Best Employers by State, third out of 100 Florida companies and first among health care and social organizations and 13th nationally in America’s Best Employers for Women. Tampa General is the safety net hospital for the region, caring for everyone regardless of their ability to pay, and in fiscal 2020 provided a net community benefit worth more than $182.5 million in the form of health care for underinsured patients, community education and financial support to community health organizations in Tampa Bay. It is one of the nation’s busiest adult solid organ transplant centers and is the primary teaching hospital for the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. With five medical helicopters, Tampa General Hospital transports critically injured or ill patients from 23 surrounding counties to receive the advanced care they need. Tampa General houses a nationally accredited comprehensive stroke center and its 32-bed Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit is the largest on the West Coast of FloridaIt also is home to the Jennifer Leigh Muma 82-bed Level IV neonatal intensive care unit, and a nationally accredited rehabilitation center. Tampa General Hospital’s footprint includes 17 Tampa General Medical Group Primary Care offices, TGH Family Care Center Kennedy, TGH Brandon Healthplex, TGH Virtual Health and 19 outpatient Radiology Centers. Tampa Bay residents also receive world-class care from the TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track network of clinics, and they can even receive home visits in select areas through TGH Urgent Care at Home, powered by Fast Track.  As one of the largest hospitals in the country, Tampa General Hospital is first in Florida to partner with GE Healthcare and open a clinical command center that uses artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to improve and better coordinate patient care at a lower cost.  For more information, go to www.tgh.org.

ABOUT USF HEALTH
USF Health's mission is to envision and implement the future of health. It is the partnership of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, the Taneja College of Pharmacy, the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, the Biomedical Sciences Graduate and Postdoctoral Programs, and USF Health’s multispecialty physicians’ group. The University of South Florida is a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success. Over the past 10 years, no other public university in the country has risen faster in U.S. News & World Report’s national university rankings than USF. For more information, visit
health.usf.edu.