Keeping the Patient Safe and Comfortable: anesthesiologists and their vital role in transplant

An anesthesiologist’s scope isn’t just in the operating room. They are there for the patient before, during and after surgery. They are even there when the patient doesn’t know it. A member on the anesthesiology team, (pictured above), is always on call to care for anyone having a liver transplant.

Dr. Courtney Jones, Director of Transplant Anesthesiology here at UC Health, answered a few questions to help us better understand how anesthesiology is involved with transplant surgery.

What does the transplant anesthesiology team do at UC Health?

We evaluate all liver transplant patients and most kidney transplant patients in the Center for Perioperative Care prior to surgery to assist with perioperative planning and risk assessment.  We also provide patient education at this visit about the anesthetic, any risks specific to the patient, and discuss any special lines or procedures that the patient will need perioperatively.

What do anesthesiologists provide for the patient during surgery?

At the most basic level, we keep the patient safe and comfortable during the surgery.   In addition to keeping the patient asleep and treating pain, we make sure the patient is breathing well on the ventilator, has a good oxygen level, safe blood pressure, and normal heart rate and rhythm.  There are often large fluctuations in blood pressure during a liver transplant and it is the anesthesiologist that manages that.  We also place the central lines and arterial lines, transfuse the blood products to replace the surgical blood loss, manage fluids, antibiotics, steroids, and anything else the patient needs in the operating room that is not actually operating. 

What is unique about anesthesia when it comes to working with transplant patients?

Transplant patients tend to be sicker than many other patients.  The very nature of the surgery means that the patient has organ failure.

What motivates you to come into work and do what you do?

I love caring for complex patients before, during, and after surgery.  It is very rewarding to help a patient through a very scary time in their life and help optimize their medical conditions to help them have the best outcome possible. 

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about anesthesiology?

Many people have the perception that anesthesiologists put you to sleep and that is the extent of their involvement.  The reality is that anesthesiologist are involved in the entire perioperative process by optimizing patients for surgery, coordinating care across specialties, providing critical care in the operating room, and some anesthesiologists continue caring for patients postoperatively in the ICU.

The anesthesiology team is vital for a successful transplant program. Thanks to Sean Josephs, Andy Friedrich, Suzanne Bennett, Maggie Mechlin, Matt Wallace, Dustin Tsitouris, Cassie Barry, Gretchen Lemmink, Alex Topala, Mike Hawryschuk, Greg Stecker, Josh Trester and Courtney Jones, they not only provide a comfortable experience for every patient during surgery, but they keep them safe too.

Now We Join in Celebration

As we celebrate 50 years of providing excellence in transplantation, breakthrough treatments and compassionate coordination of care to the region, we invite you to join us in a 50-day countdown to the anniversary of the first surgery that launched Cincinnati’s most comprehensive transplant program.

Celebrate with us by sharing our stories of transplantation with your social media network using #UCHealthTransplant via FacebookTwitter or Instagram!

For more information about UC Health transplant services, please visit