Ramesh Batra, MD, is an adult and pediatric abdominal transplant surgeon who performs kidney, liver and pancreas transplants. He also performs complex hepatobiliary procedures for people with liver tumors and biliary tract disorders, as well as general surgery procedures for those with liver cirrhosis and kidney failure.
Dr. Batra chose this field, in part, because he had an early interest in engineering and thought transplant surgery to be just as complex and challenging. “We put the patient at the center of our care, and the entire transplant team, which includes transplant surgeons, nephrologists, hepatologists, dietitians, pharmacists, social workers and coordinators, working together for the betterment of that patient.”
Transplantation surgeries have undergone significant refinements in the last six decades or so, says Dr. Batra. “Both liver transplant and kidney transplant surgeries can now be done in a third of the time it used to take in the initial years,” he says. Anti-rejection medications that are less toxic and more tolerable have also contributed to longer lasting transplants, including much more sophisticated post-transplant care
However, the shortage of organs to transplant is still a critical problem, with almost 20 patients dying on the waiting list every day, says Dr. Batra, who is an assistant professor of surgery (transplant and immunology) at Yale School of Medicine. “There is much more need than there is availability, and we’ve got to bridge this gap,” he says. He is interested in promoting living organ donation, and he focuses his research on the careful use of extended spectrum organs—finding ways to maximize organs that may seem less than perfect to get the best benefit for a suitable recipient.
Many patients remain in Dr. Batra’s thoughts. One was a sick infant who needed a liver transplant. “An altruistic living donor came forward—somebody who wanted to donate a piece of her liver out of the goodness of her heart, and we were able to successfully complete the donation and transplantation operation. It's powerful moments like these where you feel you're doing the right thing in supporting the mission of saving the most lives,” Dr. Batra says.