University Transplant Center celebrates 5,000th life-saving transplant and an all-female transplant team

A proud moment for University Transplant Center! This all-woman team performed the 5,000th transplant in program history as 2020 drew to a close. Photo courtesy University Health.

Visit our special section: Celebrating 50 years and 5,000 transplants

Staff report, revised from original version by Shelley Kofler, University Health

As we close out 2020 and think of the many lives lost to COVID-19, the University Transplant Center is pausing to remember the lives saved through organ donation. University Transplant Center is the collaborative transplant program of University Health and UT Health San Antonio.

Hayes Atkins, 14, had his life saved by the program’s 5,000th transplant. Photo courtesy University Health.

One of them, in this 50th year of the program, was a 14-year old Austin teen who received a kidney from this mother. Hayes Atkins just happened to be the 5,000th patient who received a life-saving organ at our transplant center, a remarkable milestone for a transplant center to achieve.

What made it extra special is that his transplant team was entirely female, something unheard of a half-century ago and still rare today.

Hayes’ family and the all-woman team are part of an inspirational message shared in a four-minute video on YouTube.

50 years of firsts

While COVID-19 put so many things on hold this year, the University Transplant Center continued to push forward reaching new milestones. We are honoring our many transplant trailblazers and their achievements through a special website chronicling a half-century of breakthroughs that have saved lives through organ transplantation. Please visit Celebrating 50 years and 5,000 transplants. 

It’s a great journey that continues with research that is making once-unsuitable organs acceptable for transplant. The 2020 opening of the Center for Life in University Hospital is expanding the availability of organs for patients across the nation. The transplant center’s experience and expertise recently led the teams to perform the first double-lung transplant in South Texas in a patient whose lungs were damaged by COVID-19.

To offer hope to others, please register your wishes to donate at If you’re interested in becoming a living donor, visit

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The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, also referred to as UT Health San Antonio, is one of the country’s leading health sciences universities and is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. With missions of teaching, research, patient care and community engagement, its schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have graduated more than 37,000 alumni who are leading change, advancing their fields, and renewing hope for patients and their families throughout South Texas and the world. To learn about the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit UT Health San Antonio.

University Health with University Hospital is a nationally recognized teaching hospital and network of outpatient healthcare centers owned by the people of Bexar County. In partnership with UT Health San Antonio, it is consistently recognized as a leader in advanced treatment options, new technologies and clinical research. For more information, visit University Health.

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