Washburn to lead Ohio State University transplant program

February 10, 2016

Surgeon helped make liver transplant program one of the top 10 nationally; Dr. Francisco Cigarroa to lead both adult and pediatric liver program at University Transplant Center

(SAN ANTONIO, TX - February 1, 2016) Dr. Kenneth Washburn, who helped lead the liver transplant program at University Transplant Center to a place as one of the top 10 in the nation in patient survival, and worked to change the way donor livers are allocated on a national level, has been selected to be the executive director of the Comprehensive Transplant Center at The Ohio State University Medical Center.

“We will miss Dr. Washburn, who has contributed greatly to the success of our liver transplant program, but wish him the very best as he takes over the leadership of Ohio State’s transplant center,” said Dr. Glenn Halff, director of University Transplant Center and professor of surgery at The University of Texas Health Science Center. “We’re very fortunate that Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, a tremendously talented transplant surgeon and experienced administrator, wishes to take on these responsibilities.”

Dr. Cigarroa, who has served as surgical director of the pediatric transplant program since stepping down last year as chancellor of the University of Texas System, will head the Division of Liver Transplantation in addition to his current role as head of the Division of Pediatric Transplantation. He is the Ashbel Smith Professor of Surgery at the UT Health Science Center.

University Transplant Center is a partnership between University Health System and the UT Health Science Center, where Dr. Washburn is a professor of surgery and the Valero Distinguished Chair in Transplantation.

“Ken Washburn was a driving force in building our liver transplant program into one of the best in the nation,” Dr. Cigarroa said. “I am looking forward to continuing his work and his quest to advance excellence across University Transplant Center’s mission, keeping patients front and center in every effort that we undertake.”

University Transplant Center has performed more than 1,500 liver transplants since it began in 1992, the second-highest number among Texas transplant centers. It offers the only living donor liver transplant program in South Texas — a technically challenging procedure that few centers can do.

“I feel good about how I’m leaving the program,” Dr. Washburn said. “The patient volumes have been increasing the last few years and our outcomes are outstanding.”

Dr. Washburn led an intensive process improvement program that led to some of the best patient outcomes in the country. He and Dr. Halff also broadened the scope of the liver program to provide surgery to those with liver and pancreas cancer. They work with hepatologists from the Texas Liver Institute in offering a wide range of treatments for patients with all kinds of liver disease.

Dr. Cigarroa launched the pediatric liver transplant program at University Hospital in 1995 and reestablished it after returning from Austin last year.

Dr. Washburn, who becomes executive director of The Ohio State University program in March, joined the UT Health Science Center faculty in 1998. He is a board member of the federal Organ Procurement and Transplant Network, and served as chair of the United Network for Organ Sharing’s Liver and Intestine Committee, which worked to make the local, regional and national donor organ allocation system more fair to a broader group of patients. Dr. Washburn has also served on committees of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons and president of the Texas Transplant Society, and is the current chair of the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance.