The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) recently honored Jason R. Wellen, MD, MBA, associate professor in the Section of Transplant Surgery, and Tarek Alhamad, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology, with the local chapter’s highest honor, the Award of Excellence. These awards were presented at the 33rd Annual NKF Gift of Life Gala in Nov. 2019.
Wellen, the Director of Kidney and Pancreatic Transplantation at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is part of a multidisciplinary team of kidney transplant specialists working at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. As part of this team, Wellen specializes in minimally invasive surgical techniques, such as laparoscopic donor nephrectomy. The Award of Excellence recognizes Wellen’s passion and dedication to caring for patients and assisting the NKF in promoting its mission in the region.
The NKF award coincides with the highest number of kidney transplants reported at the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center, which has performed over 10,000 organ transplants since 1963. Washington University transplant surgeons at Barnes-Jewish are innovators in the field, reaching new landmarks, connecting with international transplant programs and looking to the future of transplantation. The Center reported a record high total of 319 kidney transplant procedures last year alone. This high volume makes Wellen and the rest of the specialists highly skilled and prepared for even the most complex cases.
Each patient at the Transplant Center enters the care of a nephrology program nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Friends and family of patients have the opportunity to participate in the Live Donor Champion program, which aims to increase the number of live donors through patient advocacy. These friends and family become “Champions” for the transplant candidate by attending education and training sessions, then applying what they have learned to help locate organ donors on behalf of the patient. This novel program helps give voice to patients—who may otherwise be unable to ask for help—through their Champions.
“It is incredible to be recognized by your peers, and referring physicians,” Wellen remarks. “It is an honor that they trust us with their patients.”