October 14, 2015

Program Update: Liver Transplantation at Cleveland Clinic Florida

Exponential growth, complex cases, shorter wait times


Recently doubling its surgical staff for liver transplants, Cleveland Clinic Florida’s Transplant Program has performed 30 liver transplants to date and is poised to continue accommodating rapid volume growth.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

The program, launched in July 2013 following the hiring of internationally renowned transplant surgeon Andreas Tzakis, MD, PhD, just added two new surgeons to its ranks:

Diego Reino, MD, joined Cleveland Clinic in July following a fellowship at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center training under distinguished liver transplant surgeon Ronald W. Busuttil, MD, PhD.

Gabriel Schnickel, MD, who also previously trained under Dr. Busuttil, joined our team in August from Children’s Hospital of Michigan and Henry Ford Medical Center.


They join a busy team that includes transplant surgeon Melissa Watson, MD, and transplant hepatologist John Rivas, MD.

Medical Director Bobby Zervos, MD, credits the program’s recent success to several factors: “We’re doing complicated cases that are being referred to us from all over the country. We can offer a shorter waiting time because of the region in which we’re located — making our program an attractive option for people who can relocate and get on the waiting list here.”


The program is equally active on the research front, participating in clinical trials of ELAD® (Vital Therapies, San Diego), an investigational extracorporeal, human cell-based liver support system designed to supplement hepatic function to improve survival rates among liver failure patients. The team enrolled one patient in a previous phase involving patients with alcohol-induced liver decompensation and is now participating in the next phases for steroid-refractory acute alcoholic hepatitis and fulminant liver failure.

By the end of 2015, the program also intends to be the only adult living/related donor transplant program for livers in Florida.

Related Articles

Federico Aucejo, MD
February 7, 2024
New Research Indicates Liver Transplant, Resection as an Option for Patients with CRLM

ctDNA should be incorporated into care to help stratify risk pre-operatively and for post-operative surveillance

22-DDI-3110663 LDLT 640×450
March 1, 2023
Advanced Surgical Techniques Achieve Success with Small-Size Grafts in Living Donor Liver Transplantation

Program's approach maximizes donor safety without compromising recipients' outcomes

March 16, 2021
How to Build a Successful Laparoscopic Living-Donor Hepatectomy Program

Cleveland Clinic’s team reviews progress and offers guidance

April 24, 2018
Hepatitis C Organ Transplant Program Expands

Effective HCV treatments enable transplantation of HCV-positive organs to HCV-negative patients

Doctor talking with patient
February 21, 2024
Consider Risk Factors When Deciding Care Path for Postoperative Crohn’s Disease

Strong patient communication can help clinicians choose the best treatment option

Impostor phenomenon
February 6, 2024
Recognizing the Impact of Impostor Phenomenon and Microaggressions in Gastroenterology

The importance of raising awareness and taking steps to mitigate these occurrences

Koji Hashimoto, MD, and team
February 2, 2024
Combined Cardiac Surgery and Liver Transplant Is a New Option for Highly Selected Patients

New research indicates feasibility and helps identify which patients could benefit