In 1989 Willis-Knighton Health System, a not-for-profit community healthcare organization, and LSU, a state-owned academic health center, formed a unique partnership, pairing expertise with technology to establish the Regional Transplant Center in Shreveport, Louisiana. The visionary spirit of these two organizations resulted in a program of organ transplantation that has experienced continued growth and success over the past 23 years.
The success of the Regional Transplant Center was the result of a continued commitment from two major health systems to provide clinical expertise and quality care to patients in this region. A multidisciplinary team of experienced professionals has worked to help assure the best possible outcome for every patient.
On January 1, 2013, the transplant surgeons, formerly employed by LSU Health Shreveport, entered full-time practice with Willis-Knighton Health System. However, they will continue their partnership with the LSU Health Department of Nephrology. At this time the Regional Transplant Center renamed The John C. McDonald Regional Transplant Center to honor the late Dr. John C. McDonald. Dr. McDonald a surgeon and former chancellor of LSU Health Shreveport, was an integral part of the program’s beginning.
Dr. McDonald completed his medical degree at Tulane School of Medicine in 1955 and his surgical residency at Meyer Memorial Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y. He returned to Louisiana in 1968 and became part of the LSU system in 1977 where he was professor and chairman of the Department of Surgery. Once at LSU, he pioneered a system of organ sharing and computerized matching within the South-Eastern Organ Procurement Foundation. In 1986 Dr. McDonald assumed the presidency of the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS,) the first national system mandated by law to organize organ procurement and oversee all transplant centers in the United States. During Dr. McDonald’s time as a surgeon he completed nearly 2,000 kidney, liver and pancreas transplants.
Dr. McDonald spent 32 years with LSU Health System and retired in 2009 and died two years later at the age of 81. Colleagues had many positive words to describe this pioneering north Louisiana transplant surgeon: remarkable, humble, exceptional, caring, extraordinary, loyal, honest, kind. Although he is no longer with us, this center which continues to serve transplant patients is part of his legacy.