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Sharp Health News

New partnership helps patients with end-stage liver disease

Jan. 14, 2016

Liver transplant program

Dr. Tarek Hassanein, medical director of the Sharp HealthCare-UC San Diego joint liver transplant program.

Recognizing that two programs are not necessarily better than one, Sharp HealthCare and UC San Diego Health announced a joint program that will enhance liver transplantation services in San Diego County.

“Patients with end-stage liver disease require complex and costly care, from the time they are diagnosed with liver failure to post-surgical care,” says Dr. Tarek Hassanein, a gastroenterologist and liver transplant specialist who serves as a medical director of the joint program. “By combining resources, this alliance will strengthen clinical services for these patients while reducing costs.”

According to the American Liver Foundation, more than 30 million Americans — roughly 1 in every 10 — have some form of liver disease, of which there are more than 100. Roughly 16,000 adults and children in the U.S. are currently waiting for a liver transplant, although the number of patients in San Diego is relatively small.

Dr. Hassanein currently manages the advanced liver care program at Sharp Coronado Hospital that manages all aspects of liver disease, including pre- and post-transplant services.

“Operating as a single program with the same transplant team throughout the entire process will give patients a more seamless experience,” adds Hassanein. “It’s a great benefit to not only both health systems, but also to our patients.”

Dan Gross, Sharp HealthCare’s executive vice president of hospital operations, says the decision to collaborate is a prudent one — not only because of the tremendous resources required for liver transplantation, but also the relatively low volume of patients in the community in need of such advanced liver care services.

“This endeavor follows our highly successful joint bone marrow transplant program that we have had with UC San Diego Health since 1999,” says Gross. “Preventing program duplication while meeting community health care needs and driving down health care costs is rewarding.”

Gross notes that under the new partnership, UC San Diego Health and Sharp will collaborate on the pre-transplant referral and evaluation process to assess a patient’s candidacy and continued eligibility for a donor organ on the United Network for Organ Sharing liver transplant wait list.

All liver transplant surgeries in this partnership will be performed at UC San Diego Health. Sharp will continue its development of advanced liver care under the program at Sharp Coronado.

The arrangement also includes provisions for UC San Diego Health and Sharp to collaborate on clinical and academic research programs to further improve the quality and efficiency of liver transplant services. In addition, the program is expanding its reach in Southern California in collaboration with Southern California Liver Centers.

For the news media: To talk with Dr. Hassanein about the Sharp HealthCare-UC San Diego joint liver transplant program for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at

This article was updated in February of 2017.

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