AUG. 9, 2004 | Establishing a liver transplant program is nothing new to You Min Wu, M.D. Not only did he initiate a liver transplant program at an Iowa hospital, but he also introduced liver transplantation to his native country of China. Now, he will help launch the state’s first liver transplant program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).
Wu has joined the UAMS Department of Surgery as the new director of Liver Transplantation in the Solid Organ Transplantation Program and a professor of surgery in the College of Medicine. He comes to UAMS from the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics where he was a professor of surgery and director of the Liver Transplant Program.
Wu said he sees lots of opportunities at UAMS and is very confident with the transplant team. “We have many wonderful, first-class physicians here and a great facility – I don’t see how we can fail,” he said. “UAMS has the potential to be the leading transplant center in the nation.”
Throughout his career, Wu has performed approximately 800 transplant surgeries. He has even developed a special liver transplant technique called cavaplasty, which is used in several parts of the United States, as well as in Asia. Wu brings this technique with him to UAMS, which he hopes will bring both financial and medical benefits to UAMS.
Wu’s story of how he came to America is an interesting one. In 1982, he received his medical degree from Nanjing Medical University in Nanjing, China. While doing a residency there, a doctor named Thomas Starzl, M.D., Ph.D., visited the hospital one day and encouraged any young and willing doctors to join him at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
“I raised my hand and said I would come,” said, Wu, laughing. “And 17 days later I was in Pittsburgh.”
In Pittsburgh, Wu received fellowship training under the leadership of Starzl, who is known as the “father of liver transplants.” Wu said he didn’t plan on staying in Pittsburgh long because he wanted to return to China. But the political unrest at Tiananman Square changed his mind. In 1989, Wu completed his fellowship at Pittsburgh and was promoted to faculty status. In 1993, he was recruited to Iowa, where he stayed for more than 10 years.
Some of his numerous noteworthy accomplishments include setting four world records in liver transplants, including a record for performing a transplant on the youngest recipient – a 19-day old baby. In 2003, Wu was included in the “Best Doctors in America” list and he received an award from the Chinese Medical Association in recognition of his contribution to liver transplantation in China.
John Edwards, M.D., UAMS professor and chairman of the Department of Surgery, said he anticipates the department will start performing liver transplants in late fall.
“For the first couple of years, we expect to be performing 20-30 liver transplants a year with a potential of 50-60 a year, depending on the given need in Arkansas,” Edwards said. “Right now, 100 Arkansans are on waiting lists to receive a liver transplant. Once we begin performing liver transplants, Arkansans will no longer have to travel out of state for this complex surgery.”
Links on This Page
UAMS Department of Surgery: http://www.uams.edu/MedCenter/clinics/surgery.asp
© 2004 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. “UAMS,” “UAMS Medical Center,” “UAMS Online,” “UAMS Today,” “UAMS Update,” “uams.edu,” and “Here’s to Your Health” are marks of UAMS.