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Northwell Appoints Kidney Transplant Leader

Northwell Health today announced the appointment of Niraj Desai, MD, a renowned adult and pediatric transplant surgeon, as director of the kidney transplant program at the Northwell Health Transplant Institute. Dr. Desai is an innovator in expanding the availability of viable organs, advocating for the transplantation of organs from older donors and as well as donors with hepatitis C and HIV.

Dr. Desai comes from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, where he served as director of its kidney and pancreas transplant program since 2009. He also served as the surgical director of the pediatric kidney transplant program at Johns Hopkins. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, Dr. Desai was director of pancreas transplant at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, MO, on staff at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

The Northwell Health Transplant Institute at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) is home to Long Island’s only heart, lung, and liver transplant programs. Northwell started performing adult kidney transplants at NSUH in 2007 and established its pediatric kidney transplant program at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park in 2017.

“We are delighted to have Dr. Niraj Desai join the Northwell transplant family,” said Nabil Dagher, MD, vice president, director, Northwell Transplant Institute. “He is a highly regarded clinician who will contribute greatly to the expansion of kidney transplant services across the system. There is a significant number of New Yorkers with end stage kidney disease who would benefit from kidney transplantation. Northwell is committed to expanding access to services to care for these individuals. Dr. Desai will provide leadership and expertise in a critical area of need.”

The fastest growing transplant program in the Northeast, the Northwell Transplant Institute performed more than 200 kidney transplants in 2023. Northwell’s kidney transplant program maintains exceptional outcomes and above expected transplant rates. North Shore, a CMS 5-Star hospital, will soon open the Petrocelli Surgical Pavilion which will further enhance the patient experience with state-of-the-art operating rooms and critical care units.

“There are patients desperately hoping for new kidneys and my mandate is to create that access and extend them a lifeline,” said Dr. Desai. “That’s why I’ve been a proponent of expanding the pool of eligible donors to include individuals whose age was a disqualifier in the past as well as those with infectious diseases. Why not treat the disease and save a life at the same time? I look forward to bringing my energies to Northwell to help the people of New York and beyond.”

Dr. Desai, who has authored nearly 150 medical papers, earned his Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Williams College (MA) and medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. He completed surgical residency and transplant fellowship at UPenn.

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