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Maine Transplant Program

At the Maine Transplant Program at Maine Medical Center, our mission is to provide the best care for patients with irreversible kidney failure and their living donors. As the only transplant program in the state, the Maine Transplant Program has performed more than 1500 kidney transplants since 1971. Learn more about living donation.

We are committed to providing top quality, multidisciplinary and personalized care for each patient. Our experienced transplant team is made up of nephrologists, surgeons, nurses, lab specialists, pharmacists, nutritionists and social workers. Our dedicated group works closely with the providers who know you best including your referring nephrologist and dialysis unit, to ensure that you have the best possible outcome.

Receiving care closer to home can help ease stress. The Maine Transplant Program provides high quality care conveniently located in Portland, Maine. When compared with other programs in the United States:

  • Our center has higher transplant rates (proportion of referred patients who actually receive transplants) than the region.

    Maine Transplant Program Observed Transplant Rates
  • Our median time to transplant is less than half of the time for the region. These statistics mean you may be likely to receive a transplant faster with us than with other programs in the area.

  • Our pre-transplant mortality rates are around half the rates of those of the region and the U.S.

  • Our patient and graft survival rates are higher than the U.S. average.


For living donors, we offer:

  • Fast Track evaluation process that can speed up the evaluation of living donor candidates allowing us make a decision within 8 weeks of the initial visit
  • Kidney Paired Donation (also known as Kidney Donor Swap)
    • If your blood type is not compatible with the person you want to donate to (this happens about 30 percent of the time), you can still help that person by taking part in a kidney transplant paired exchange.
    • Through our program, you can participate in a local or national exchange, so your kidney goes to a patient in need. Then, as part of the exchange, your intended recipient will receive a kidney from someone else who they are compatible with.
    • Your chances of helping somebody in need despite being incompatible are 1.5 times higher with us than the national average.

      *Source: Maine Medical Center, for donations in 2018
      **Source: NKR Paired Exchange Results Quarterly Report, data as of 12/31/2018 (for donations between 2/2008-6/2017)

The Maine Transplant Program provides easy-to-understand information about organ transplant and living donation. These interactive programs can help you learn more becoming a donor and general information on organ transplant surgery.

The programs, created by Emmi Solutions, are developed in partnership with Board certified physicians. *Please note — these programs provide a general overview. Your surgeon may have different requirements, recommendations, and pathways than what is presented.

To view a Video, please click on the links below and complete the registration.

Organ Transplant Overview
Becoming a Donor 

The Maine Transplant Program has been at the forefront of both translational and clinical research. As a teaching hospital, many of our physicians serve as faculty who continue to publish scholarly works in a wide variety of peer-reviewed journals. We are very active participants in medical education at every level. You may meet our trainees both in clinic and in the hospital as they learn about kidney disease and transplantation from our expert faculty.

Transplant Team


John Vella, M.D.

Medical Director


James Whiting, M.D.

Surgical Director


Ana Rossi, M.D.

Associate Medical Director


Juan Palma-Vargas, M.D.

Donation Director


Ardyce Peters

Director, Transplant Services


Nicole Irvin

Clinical Nurse III


Janice Hylton, RMA

Medical Assistant

Clinical Coordinators


Theresa Boulos, R.N., BSN, CCRN

Pre-Transplant Coordinator


Betsy Bernazzani, R.N.

Post-Transplant Coordinator

Heather Stephen, RN


Andrew Pixley, RN, BSN



Inpatient Clinical Support

Deborah Hoch, DNP, CCRN, ACNP-BN

Nephrology & Transplant Nurse Practitioner



Kimberly Provencher

Financial Counselor



Marizela Savic, PharmD

Social Work

Sarah Moran

Social Worker



Ashley Lazarz, R.D.

Clinical Transplant Dietitian

Living Donor Advocates

Laura Madigan McCown, M.A., LCSW


Frank Chessa, PhD

Please complete this form if you have questions or want more information about organ transplant services.Thank you.

Message from Our Director

Our mission is to provide the best care for patients with irreversible kidney failure and their living donors. Read more from our Director, Dr. John Vella.

Learn About Living Donation

Listen to Dr. Juan Palma, Transplant Surgeon at Maine Transplant Program at Maine Medical Center will discuss the facts around being a living kidney donor.

Listen Now