Meet Dr. Justin ParekhAbdominal organ transplant surgeon in Dallas
Transplant surgeon Justin Parekh, M.D., chose his specialty because of the profound change transplantation makes in a patient’s health.
“In medicine we often make small, incremental improvements in the health of our patients,” he says. “Transplant is the opposite. Liver transplant patients go from being on death’s doorstep to having a fairly normal life. Kidney transplant patients go from the very low energy of being tied to dialysis three times a week to having the freedom to get back to their lives. I see transplant medicine as a high-impact way that I can help people.”
But before he performs these life-changing operations, Dr. Parekh and the rest of UT Southwestern Medical Center’s abdominal transplant team work hard to make sure their patients will have the best outcome possible after their surgeries.
“We counsel patients to ensure they understand that transplant is a lifelong commitment that requires ongoing medication and maintenance,” he says. “It’s important for me and the team to start that process as early as we can so that patients are prepared for the work they have to do—not only before transplant but after, as well.”
Dr. Parekh performs transplants of the liver, pancreas, and kidney. Most of these transplanted organs come from deceased donors, but Dr. Parekh also participates in living-donor kidney transplant, in which he helps to remove a kidney from a living donor. The outcomes of living-donor transplants are better than those from deceased donors, and Dr. Parekh says that living donation can be very meaningful for the families.
“Most donors I’ve worked with feel empowered by that process; it deepens the bond between the donor and the recipient. It’s a unique aspect of medicine that you don’t encounter in other fields.”
Dr. Parekh notes that his role as a surgeon is only one facet of how transplant medicine changes lives.
“Having great outcomes in transplant is not just dependent on one surgeon or one operation. It’s the whole team and a process that begins long before the actual transplant – and one that continues for years after transplant. From the hepatologists and nephrologists to the surgeons, social workers, and pharmacists—that team effort is what counts. The fact that UT Southwestern has built a very talented team of caregivers from start to finish is what gets people through and allows our patients to go back to a full and healthy life.”