Vickers transition headshotToday, I want to share groundbreaking news for UAB, the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine, and the UAB Health System. The UAB Department of Surgery’s organ transplant program has successfully transplanted the kidneys from a genetically modified pig into the body of a brain-dead human recipient.

This news, published in today’s edition of the American Journal of Transplantation, is a medically remarkable feat that provides a peer-reviewed proof of concept for xenotransplantation and offers a pathway to a robust, sustainable supply of life-saving organs for more than 600,000 Americans relegated to dialysis despite efforts to boost human organ donations.

Our team of highly skilled and dedicated transplant surgeons, led by Jayme Locke, M.D., director of the UAB Comprehensive Transplant Institute, has been unrelenting in their efforts to pioneer new methods to save Americans who are awaiting a kidney transplant. Each day, an average of 240 Americans die while waiting. Our teams have expanded the donor pool with their accomplishment. It will provide the gift of life to thousands awaiting transplants in Alabama and beyond.

Along with President Ray Watts, M.D., my leadership team across the health system and I are grateful to Jim Parsons, the recipient, and his family. Without them, this scientific and medical breakthrough would not have been possible. To honor his legacy, Dr. Locke has proposed this new pre-clinical advance be forever known as “The Parsons Model.”

You can read more about the groundbreaking xenotransplantation in this coverage from UAB News, or make a gift to support the transplantation program at UAB.

I also want to invite you to join me for my annual State of the School address, which will take place via Zoom on Wednesday, Jan. 26 at noon CST. I will review our school’s growth and highlights from what was a truly unprecedented year, including the transformative naming gift from Marnix Heersink, M.D. You can register for the event here.

Finally, for more highlights from the past year, our 2021 Annual Report is now available online. I am incredibly proud of our faculty, staff, and trainees at every level who have shown remarkable grit and resilience throughout the pandemic. It was a year of adaptation and innovation across all our mission areas, and in our Annual Report you’ll see that excellence was on display across every area of our school.

As always, I wish you good health and thank you for all you do to help keep your communities safe and well during this uncertain time.