Dr. Ngoc Thai named chair of surgery for Allegheny Health Network
Dr. Ngoc Thai, a nationally recognized transplant surgeon credited with expanding Allegheny Health Network’s organ transplant program, has been named chair of the system’s department of surgery.
In his new role, Thai, 52, is tasked with growing the surgery programs at all eight of AHN’s hospitals and 22 outpatient centers. AHN said it performs more than 100,000 surgical operations annually.
Thai said it’s his job to make sure all of the hospitals work together as a team to provide the best care possible. Thai is one of 10 department chairs leading clinical operations.
“I am taking all of the pieces with different flavors and making a team to provide quality care with compassion and passion,” he said.
“My goal is to build a world-class department.”
Thai has been at the network’s flagship hospital, Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, since 2007. During that time he established AHN’s liver transplant program essentially from the ground up. He also played a key role in bringing in bringing an organ transplant clinic to Saint Vincent Hospital in Erie. In addition, Thai helped pioneer the use of Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy to treat patients with inoperable liver cancer.
Thai said he will continue to perform surgeries because it is important for him to be in the operating room. AGH surgeons typically perform 60 major re-sections procedures, 100 kidney transplants and 40 liver transplants a year, he said.
Thai and his team recently performed an aortic valve replacement, kidney and liver transplant on a local man, in his 40s who was suffering from liver failure and endocarditis, an infection of the heart’s inner lining, usually involving the heart valves. Thai said the surgery – done within the last month – took place during a two-day period. This was an unusual surgery because three procedures were done in a combined manner and on a critically ill patient, said Thai, adding the organs came from the same donor.
“I coordinated and performed the liver and kidney transplants,” Thai said.
Prior to joining Allegheny General and AHN, Thai was director of Pancreas Transplantation and director of operations for Kidney Transplantation at the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute of UPMC, where he completed a fellowship in transplantation surgery. He is recognized by Best Doctors as a national leader in his field and won the American Liver Foundation’s Tribute to Excellence Award in 2011.
“I was lucky enough to have met Dr. Starzl at Pitt,” said Thai, who credits his interest in transplant surgery to a man he considers his mentor. “This is a passion. I couldn’t think of doing anything else.”