Dr. Gaetano Ciancio is Honored with Named Operating Room in Buenos Aires

Many patients undergoing lifesaving surgeries at the first institute in Latin America dedicated to organ transplantation will be wheeled into an operating room named for a renowned transplant surgeon from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and the Miami Transplant Institute at UM/Jackson Memorial Hospital.

The Dr. Gaetano Ciancio Operating Room — the first in Latin America named after an American transplant surgeon — recognizes Dr. Ciancio’s decades of dedication. He routinely travels to Argentina and many other countries around the world to teach clinicians the latest transplantation techniques, establish organ transplant programs and help improve patient care.

The new OR, one of four at the d.Institute ITAC (Instituto de Trasplantes y Alta Complejidad) in Buenos Aires, was officially dedicated on July 12. In attendance at the ceremony were Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, Argentinian Vice President Marta Gabriela Michetti, pioneers of transplantation in Argentina, Domingo Casadei, M.D., director of the institute, and Ciancio himself.

Interestingly, he almost didn’t make it.

“To be honest with you, I didn’t know,” Dr. Ciancio said. He had already planned a trip to Haiti in mid-July to perform kidney transplants and other surgeries, as well as to check in on the transplant program he helped launch in 2009. When he was invited to Argentina at the same time, he declined because of this prior commitment.

Unfortunately, there was turmoil in Haiti, and he had to cancel the trip. When the officials in Buenos Aires discovered this, they insisted he travel there instead.

“Finally they told me I had to come because they were dedicating an OR to me,” said Dr. Ciancio, who is the Brandon and Kyle Simonsen Professor of Surgery and Urology at the Miller School and director of the kidney and kidney/pancreas transplant program at the Miami Transplant Institute.

“They thanked me for my contributions over the years. In Argentina, they are very happy about what I’ve done in their country.”

Dr. Ciancio helped to start a simultaneous kidney/pancreas transplant program at the d.Institute. Once they reach full operation, the d.Institute will offer kidney, kidney/pancreas and liver transplants, including living donations. In addition to the four ORs, the new nine-story facility will feature 50 beds and provide 4,500 treatments annually, including transplants, other surgeries and imaging services.

“Our UM/JMH program is one of the first pancreatic transplant programs in the U.S.” said Dr. Ciancio. “They wanted to start the same thing in Argentina and needed some help.”

Since 1995, he has also trained clinicians in Argentina in transplant surgeries, transplant medicine, laparoscopy donor nephrectomy, and in the use of immunosuppression agents and optimal patient management.

Although Dr. Ciancio is grateful for his recent recognition, he is also quick to point out that the new OR in Buenos Aires is not just about him.

“I’m happy they named the OR after me, but it is really about the University of Miami,” he said. “Our presence as a university all over the world is important. I’m representing the University of Miami — I’m not representing Ciancio.”

In fact, he takes the University of Miami flag with him whenever he teaches or helps clinicians in other countries take care of patients. He performs surgery not only in Argentina, but also in Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, and in Haiti and other Caribbean countries.

“That’s one of the missions of the University of Miami — giving back. We have to make the world a better place, and I have always tried to help where I can around the world. It’s an honor, because at the end of the day, I also represent the U.S.”

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