A First in San Diego for Scripps Clinic Transplant Surgeons

Surgeons performed first organ transplant from donor without a beating heart

Scripps Center for Organ and Cell Transplantation surgeons, Jonathan Fisher, MD, and Randolph Schaffer, MD, performed the first-ever organ procurement in San Diego from a non-heart beating donor last month.


Most organs are obtained from cadaveric donors—individuals who have suffered brain death but whose bodies are being sustained by machines. There are approximately 80,000 Americans on waiting lists for organ transplants, but only about 6,500 cadaveric donors each year. Some patients are fortunate enough to find someone, usually a relative, who is willing to be a living donor and undergo surgery to provide one of two kidneys or a portion of his or her liver or lung. Still, living donation provides only another 6,500 donors per year. Many patients are left waiting long periods of time for transplants and some, unfortunately, don’t live long enough to wait for an opportunity.


The pool of available organs can be increased by utilizing non-heart beating donors. Though these individuals do not fit the legal definition of brain death, circumstances have left them in a vegetative state and their family members elect to withdraw support. Once consent is received from the next of kin and breathing and heartbeat have spontaneously stopped, the donor is brought rapidly to the operating room and the organs are recovered. An additional 397 kidneys and 110 livers were rescued from nonheart beating donors in the United States in 2003.


The Scripps Center for Organ and Cell Transplantation is committed to the highest possible quality of clinical care, medical education and clinical research, with goals including:


  • To provide progressive and high-quality abdominal organ transplantation for the people of San Diego and surrounding regions
  • To provide compassionate care for its patients and support for their family and friends
  • To participate in educational and research endeavors in the field essential to achieving the best possible outcome for its patients
  • To integrate the surgical expertise unique to the Center into the Scripps Clinic health care delivery network

Media Contact

Janice Collins
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collins.janice@scrippshealth.org
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