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Tampa General Hospital Hosts the First Annual “We Are TGH Day” in Tallahassee to Celebrate its 10,000th Transplant Milestone

Published: Nov 6, 2019

By Tampa General Hospital


Photos and video of event available at: https://mediashare.tgh.org/tgh_day

Tallahassee, FL (Nov. 6, 2019) – Dozens of Tampa General Hospital patients traveled to Tallahassee to celebrate the hospital’s 10,000th transplant milestone as part of the inaugural We Are TGH Day in the state’s Capitol today. Senate President-Designate Wilton Simpson joined John Couris, president and CEO of Tampa General Hospital, and the TGH patient and family advocates at a news conference Wednesday at 2 p.m. on the Historic Capitol steps. The hospital celebrated its landmark transplant event, which places Tampa General Hospital among the top transplant centers in the country.

“Two other hospitals said I was too sick for a transplant,” said Tonya Cajuste, who received both heart and kidney transplants at Tampa General. “Thanks to Tampa General, I’m here working to carry on the legacy of the donor who gave me a second chance at life. I want to help people understand that transplantation changes lives. I have a new chance at touching lives and helping people.”

More than 60 patients and families who found healing thanks to the unique and complex life-saving care offered only at TGH attended the celebration at Florida’s State Capitol. They included patients who received transplants at TGH; trauma patients who suffered devastating injuries; and patients who have undergone complex heart and brain surgeries. Patient Richard Hendrix said that Tampa General saved his life twice. “Tampa General was the only hospital out of many hospitals that I’ve been to that was able to give me answers, and not only give me answers, but solve my problems,” Hendrix said. “They brought me back from stage 4 heart failure and now I’m living a completely healthy life.”

Patients like Tonya Cajuste and Richard Hendrix demonstrate how large-volume health systems, such as Tampa General, gain and maintain the expertise needed to provide better outcomes and save more lives. The patients and family members are part of a coalition of advocates from TGH who met with state leaders, state Senators and state Representatives in Tallahassee throughout the day to demonstrate how TGH’s unique expertise helps Florida families. The activities were all part of We Are TGH Day, which also included opportunities for patients to hear from Sen. Simpson and other legislators.

“Every one of these patients is a hero,” said John Couris, president and CEO of Tampa General. “They found the strength to survive. And the team at Tampa General Hospital is incredibly proud to have been a part of their journey.”

#WeAreTGH Day had a presence throughout the Plaza Level of the Capitol, with the latest technologies and innovations at TGH on display in the Rotunda and one of five helicopters used to transport critical patients to TGH from 12 counties on display in the courtyard. Tampa General marked its 10,000th successful transplant in the fall of 2018; the program began in 1974. Its clinical teams went on to perform the first successful heart transplant in Florida, and Tampa General is now among the top 10 busiest organ transplant centers in the nation.

“This 10,000 transplants milestone is a symbol of the way Tampa General leads in complex, difficult procedures in many surgical specialties,” Couris said. “Many studies have shown that patients do better when they undergo surgeries in large surgical centers, where the surgical teams perform complex procedures more often. Surgical teams that operate more often become more proficient. Increased proficiency leads to better outcomes. And better outcomes are linked to lower costs. That’s what Tampa General is all about: Quality. Access. And affordability.”

“Tampa General Hospital is a quality institution in our region,” said Senate President-Designate Wilton Simpson. “I love their motto because it is true: while others practice medicine, TGH defines it. It was great to see so many patients and families here in our state Capitol to share how Tampa General saved their lives. Congrats to Tampa General for achieving the milestone of 10,000 transplants.”

Tampa General is a Level 1 Trauma Center and was the first hospital in Florida to achieve this verification from the American College of Surgeons. TGH also is the only Florida hospital verified as a Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center by the ACS. Tampa General is home to the only Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program designated by the Florida Department of Health as well as one of four Florida burn centers verified by the American Burn Association. TGH also is a nationally certified comprehensive stroke center and is the primary teaching hospital of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

 The 10,000th transplant was performed at TGH on September 30, 2018, when a patient from Fort Myers received a new kidney. The first transplant was also a kidney transplant performed 44 years earlier in 1974. This year, the hospital has already performed more than 100 liver transplants, ranking it as the 9th busiest center for adult liver transplants in the nation. The hospital has performed 300 kidney transplants this year as well. Today, the hospital performs adult heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas transplants, including kidney/pancreas transplants and living donor kidney transplants. TGH also performs pediatric kidney transplants.

Tampa General Hospital, a 1007-bed non-profit academic medical center, delivers world-class care as the region’s only center for Level l trauma and comprehensive burn care. 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 Florida. It also is home to an 82-bed Level IV neonatal intensive care unit, and a state-certified spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation center. Tampa General Hospital’s footprint includes 14 Tampa General Medical Group Primary Care offices, TGH Family Care Center Kennedy, TGH Brandon Healthplex, TGH Virtual Care, 15 outpatient Radiology Centers and a TGH Urgent Care located in Brandon. As one of the largest hospitals in Florida, Tampa General Hospital is first in the state to open a command center in partnership with GE Healthcare. For more information, go to www.tgh.org.