Andreas Tzakis, a celebrated transplant surgeon at the University of Miami, is moving to Cleveland Clinic in Weston to help establish a transplant program there -- the first of perhaps a series of moves that will intensify South Florida hospital competition in the crucial, heavily publicized field.
Its a very good opportunity, Tzakis, 62, said Monday shortly before a farewell party at the UM/Jackson Memorial campus, where he has worked for 18 years.
Cleveland Clinic is in the final stages of getting approval from state regulators for its transplant program -- a regulatory road that the Memorial Regional and Broward Health Medical Center have also started down in direct challenges to the Miami Transplant Center, a joint UM-Jackson Memorial operation which for decades has dominated the field of adult transplants in the region.
With growing tensions between UM and Jackson, UM applied earlier this year for its own transplant certifications. for its University of Miami Hospital.
UM eventually withdrew those applications, but for some months the Miami transplant program was in some turmoil. All those things dont help, Tzakis said Monday in a telephone interview, but that was not anything decisive in his decision to make the move.
The UM medical school has laid off more than 900 fulltime and part-time employees this spring and former UM Trustee Norman Braman has said that the medical faculty has suffered from low morale.
Tzakis said two other UM transplant surgeons have left this year, and he hopes that eventually he might be able to lure UM colleagues to Cleveland, a nonprofit operated by physicians that Tzakis described as a great place. My friends who work there really love it.
Tzakis is recognized national leader in liver, intestinal and multivisceral transplantation. Earlier this year, he made news when he and his team saved the life of a girl, 6, by the first time transplanting simultaneously a liver, pancreas and both kidneys.
Tzakis said he plans to open a clinic in the Weston facility in August, where he can see his transplant patients he now sees in Miami and perform surgeries other than transplants. He said he will do transplants at the Cleveland Clinics Ohio hospital under the Weston facility gets its state certification.
Jackson lists the transplant center as one of its centers of excellence as it attempts to negotiate a new operating agreement with UM. Last week, Gaetano Ciancio, a veteran UM surgeon was named director of the Miami Transplant Institute.