Children's considers transplant program 

YOUMIN WU: Promise closer to reality.
  • YOUMIN WU: Promise closer to reality.

When the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences announced it had recruited Dr. Youmin Wu to inaugurate its liver transplant program, it noted that Wu held the record for a successful transplant in the youngest person — a 19-day-old baby.

In a recent wide-ranging interview with the Times, Wu said one of the reasons he came to Arkansas in 2004 was that he’d been promised he could start a pediatric transplant program at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. “I was very happy coming here because I thought I could do a very good pediatric transplant program,” the native of Nanjing said. “Children’s Hospital is a first class hospital. Number 6 in nation.” But Children’s was dragging its feet, he said. “I can’t explain it.”

But Children’s is dragging its feet no more. CEO Dr. Jonathan Bates said Tuesday that the hospital’s financial director is working with the state Medicaid office to reimburse the hospital at a level that would make it possible to start a pediatric liver transplant program.

“There’s daylight,” Bates said. A committee at Children’s had announced March 10 that it could not endorse a pediatric transplant program because of TEFRA rules limiting reimbursement. After that decision was made public, the Medicaid office called Children’s to discuss a waiver of the limits, Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Julie Munsell said.

The state Medicaid program is now paying for pediatric liver transplants out of state, so it’s likely there would be no extra cost of the state program to offer them in state. Bates said Children’s refers an average of five children a year to hospitals outside the state for liver transplantation, and estimated the average cost at $150,000.

Without a waiver, the state’s Medicaid reimbursements would fall “way below the hospital’s expenses” for a liver transplant program, Bates said.

Munsell said a waiver would raise the reimbursement for the surgery to full cost. The same process was used 18 months ago to allow UAMS to offer liver transplants to patients without private insurance. Children’s has also received a waiver in the past, when the late Dr. Jonathan Drummond-Webb expanded its pediatric heart transplant program.

Children’s come-about was welcome to Wu, who last week had said the committee’s decision to put off the transplant program was making him think hard about whether to stay in Arkansas. Tuesday he said a program at Children’s “will be good for the kids and the state.”

Medicaid’s call “put a whole new complexion on the [previous] decision,” Bates said. If Medicaid agrees to a higher reimbursement, Bates said the only remaining obstacle to putting a program in place would be assembling the medical team to assist in the surgery, assuming the hospital gets approval from UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing). Because children are small and livers can regenerate, organs from living donors can be used. Most pediatric donors are parents; Wu would care for them at UAMS and their children at ACH.

Wu trained under the liver transplant pioneer Dr. Thomas E. Starzl of the University of Pittsburgh and has 20 years’ experience in pediatric liver and small bowel transplants. He will be joined this summer by Dr. Frederick Bentley, a specialist in liver, kidney and kidney-pancreas transplants at the University of Louisville, whose solid organ transplant program Bentley developed.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Kanis development decried

    Fletcher Hollow wrong place for density, neighbors tell LR planners.
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • Eligible voters removed from rolls

    Arkansas Times reporters contacted election officials around the state to see how they had handled flawed felon data from the secretary of state. Responses varied dramatically.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Real Republicans don't do pre-K

    Also, drifting away from trump, Hudson's downfall at ASU and more.
    • Aug 11, 2016

Most Shared

  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Labor department director inappropriately expensed out-of-state trips, audit finds

    Jones was "Minority Outreach Coordinator" for Hutchinson's 2014 gubernatorial campaign. The governor first named him as policy director before placing him over the labor department instead in Jan. 2015, soon after taking office.
  • Lawsuit filed against ADC officials, prison chaplain convicted of sexual assault at McPherson

    A former inmate who claims she was sexually assaulted over 70 times by former McPherson Womens' Unit chaplain Kenneth Dewitt has filed a federal lawsuit against Dewitt, several staff members at the prison, and officials with the Arkansas Department of Corrections, including former director Ray Hobbs.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

Latest in Arkansas Reporter

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Learning to love North Little Rock in Park Hill

    • My father in law built this house from WW2 materials he bought cheap. The walls…

    • on December 5, 2016
  • Re: A killing in Pocahontas

    • my name is kimberly some parts are true some are not travis was a victum…

    • on December 4, 2016
  • Re: Vive la resistance!

    • We are not asking you to place a stent in the Democrats Heart nor to…

    • on December 4, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation