MOTP’s 25th anniversary event featured a speech from Debbie Zogalo, one of the original nurses at the program and a touching account of Alita Malinowski’s decision to donate her liver to her childhood friend Sarah Gorsline. (Video: UHN)

It was exact​ly 25 years ago that the world's first fully integrated organ transplant program came to life within the buildings of UHN.

This unique coordinated team approach to caring for all transplant patients in one program gave it a strong foundation to develop major advances in transplantation and provide the most progressive clinical care.  Medical teams and students from around the world come to learn about these best practices.

The Multi-Organ Transplant program (MOTP),  now the largest transplant program in Canada and one of the top five transplant programs in North America, celebrated its 25th anniversary in an evening ceremony last month.

Many of the doctors, nurses, medical staff and generous organ donors that have made the program the success it is today were present to share their experiences. 

Bound by more than friendship

Long-time friends Sarah Gorsline and Alita Malinowski were on-hand to share their story of courage and living donor experience with the MOT program.  The living liver donor program at UHN is the largest in North America, with outstanding results that surpass international benchmarks.

After being diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, an auto-immune disease that causes liver failure, Gorsline needed a liver transplant within a few short years. Malinowski offered to donate two-thirds of her liver without hesitation.

Within twelve weeks of the surgery, both friends' livers had grown back to healthy sizes.

"Because of the dedication, the commitment and the personal sacrifice of the people involved with MOT, I'm alive and life for my kids is free of hurt and loss, and that is the legacy of what the transplant program has built," said Gorsline.

In 1990, two Toronto hospital Transplant Programs were consolidated at Toronto General Hospital. Over the next 25 years, UHN's Multi Organ Transplant Program blazed a trail to become one of the top transplant programs in the world in treatment, education, and research. This is the story of how two disparate groups came together to make history. (Video: UHN YouTube)

International acclaim

MOTP at UHN is known for its internationally-renowned medical staff that perform kidney, liver, heart, lung, pancreas and intestinal transplant procedures. On average, 500 transplants are performed per year at the MOTP, with a record-breaking 535 organ transplants performed this year.

The program performs more than half of all transplants in Ontario, about one quarter of all those in Canada, and follows more than 8,000 patients from more than 450 communities across nine provinces.

"All of you have an unwavering commitment to your patients, to saving their lives in a way that no other type of medical intervention can ever do," Dr. Atul Humar, the director of MOTP, told his colleagues.

"Over the years, all of you have shown me, and continue to show me, that transplantation is really a modern medical miracle."​

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