What Makes Us Different

How We're Different

UI Health is one of only 4 comprehensive and combined medical and surgical centers in the United States for the treatment of patients with intestinal failure. Our center is the largest living donor intestinal transplant program in the world and one of just two programs in the world offering living-donor transplant for the abdominal organs – kidney, liver, pancreas, small bowel, combined liver/bowel, and combined kidney/pancreas.

The faculty at UI Health are world thought leaders who have authored the American Treatment Guidelines for the management of short bowel syndrome and intestinal transplantation. At UI Health, we are proud to have over half of the entire world’s experience in living donor intestinal transplantation, offering cutting-edge research options for our patients.

“At UIC and UI Health,” we are at the cutting edge of developing new techniques, new medications, and new devices to help patients with intestinal failure or intestinal transplant live longer and more productive and safer lives.  We are engaged in investigations at the laboratory bench that we hope to eventually bring to the bedside, and to provide our patients with unique opportunities. Our multidisciplinary team, our experience, our knowledge, our surgical skills, and our ingenuity allow us to provide each patient with an experience that they may not achieve elsewhere.”

Our History

UI Health doctors and investigators developed the national guidelines to treat patients with short bowel syndrome and have pioneered the development of new medical therapies for intestinal failure, including clonidine to treat diarrhea, choline to treat intestinal failure-associated liver disease, and teduglutide to improve nutrient and fluid absorption and decrease dependence on PN.

Our physicians also pioneered some of the first major organ transplants in Illinois and in the world.

The University of Illinois at Chicago has a long and impressive history of small bowel transplantation.  The first such transplant was performed in 1998. Since that time, over 55 small bowel transplants have been performed; all by Dr. Benedetti and his team.  Living donor small bowel transplantation was pioneered by Dr. Benedetti at the University of Illinois. The first transplant was performed in 1998 and this patient remains alive today. The University of Illinois at Chicago is the world’s leader in living donor small bowel transplantation and over 50% of the cases in the world have been performed at UI Health.  Many surgeons and members of other medical specialties and disciplines have come to the University of Illinois to train and/or observe our practices. Dr. Buchman, our medical director, was the lead author on the current American practice guidelines for small bowel transplantation.

Read Dr Buchman’s headline article on Intestinal failure–associated liver disease (IFALD) in the JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020 Oley Newsletter

Our Center is one of only four comprehensive adult intestinal rehabilitation and transplant centers in the United States.  Our philosophy is that many transplant-only centers prematurely transplant patients, which may lead to early death in a patient who otherwise might not need a transplant. We also believe that many patients are transplanted too late, or are too sick for a transplant, but for those patients followed in our intestinal rehabilitation program, the transition to transplantation, if necessary, can be seamless and undertaken at the appropriate time.  We believe that in part, this is what has lead to our patient and graft survival rate that compare favorably with the national average.

We, at the University of Illinois/UI Health also offer a unique physical rehabilitation program that is changing the face of transplantation and able to prepare patients for a real life, and employment.