If you haven’t met Dr. Jorge Ortiz, you probably will; he’s going to do big things at The University of Toledo.Ortiz, an associate professor and chief of surgical transplant who joined the faculty last year, has been doing kidney transplants and teaching residents the tools of the trade. As an expert of solid organ transplantation, Ortiz hopes to do more than just kidney transplants; he wants to start a liver and pancreas transplantation program at UT in the next two years.
“Transplant surgery is like general surgery, but the risks and benefits are much higher,” he said. “You have to know your general surgery, you have to know transplant surgery, medicine, the whole deal. You have to take care of the whole patient, not just one organ.”
On top of teaching and creating new programs, Ortiz is passionate about the effect of race on transplants. He plans to join the Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program and is part of the diversity committee for the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
“I have a particular interest in helping even out disparities in health care, and also studying those disparities between ethnic and socioeconomic groups,” Ortiz said. “I want to learn and teach what are the outcome differences, if any, between groups.”
Ortiz is working with Dr. Donald White, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, to decipher data from UNOS regarding race and transplant outcomes.
“We can’t have a system or a society or a culture where there are different opportunities amongst people, different outcomes amongst people,” Ortiz said. “It should all be fair. We should embrace our differences, but correct our inequalities.”
The initiative for new organ transplantation programs and the collaboration to improve transplants for everyone are just two of Ortiz’s goals. He also said he is looking forward to improving UT’s global outreach and teaching his residents.
“When you do an activity repeatedly, it’s a task, but when you do that with someone to teach them that activity, it’s more enjoyable,” Ortiz said. “I enjoy the energy that the students have — trying to get ahead, trying to improve, not just trying to get by.”