URMC Gala Celebrates 20 Years of Liver Transplants

Sep. 5, 2012
Keynote address by Bollywood Superstar Priyanka Chopra

Marking the 20th anniversary of its liver transplant program, the University of Rochester Medical Center will host a fundraising gala at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 5 at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.The event will have a Bollywood theme and feature keynote speaker Priyanka Chopra. Superstar actor, humanitarian, green crusader and former Miss World, Chopra is a multifaceted personality and one of the most recognized and lauded talents in Indian cinema. She devotes considerable time to international humanitarian causes, including her role as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.

In 2011, Chopra was signed to 2101/Desi Hits! /Interscope Records to pursue her passion for music. Chopra’s debut single “In My City,” featuring performer and produced by RedOne (Lady Gaga) and Brian Kennedy, is launching this month. Chopra and the single have been chosen as the featured artist and song for Thursday Night Kickoff, the weekly pregame show for NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football.

Her father, Ashok Chopra, M.D., a renowned plastic surgeon in India, has been treated for several years at URMC for a liver illness. In the course of his treatment, Priyanka Chopra learned of URMC’s Solid Organ Transplant Program and recently pledged to be an organ donor.

Chopra uses her celebrity status to promote the enormous impact of and need for organ donation. “A simple way to look at this is to put yourself in that position,” she said. “If someone you loved needed an organ transplant to save their life, wouldn’t you wish that there was someone who was there to donate one? I realized the value of organ donation as my father came close to needing one recently. By pledging to donate an organ, you can actually save someone’s life. Take the pledge, make a difference, save a life.”

While the goal of the event is to raise awareness of the need for organ donation, funds raised through the gala will be used for patient care, advocacy, research and education. Seymour I. Schwartz, M.D., Distinguished Alumni Professor of Surgery, who is widely known for his significant impact on hepatobiliary (liver) surgery and his contributions to the surgical literature, will be honored at the gala. URMC transplant surgeon Christopher Barry, M.D., Ph.D. associate professor of Surgery, is gala chair. Parul Patel, MSc. Biotech, is co-chair, and Anil K. Sharma, M.D., clinical associate professor of Medicine, is honorary co-chair.

The Medical Center’s Division of Solid Organ Transplantation is the only liver transplant program in upstate New York and has performed more than 1,500 transplants.

URMC’s transplant team includes four surgeons who serve patients from across New York and northern Pennsylvania in need of kidney, pancreas and liver transplants. In addition, two surgeons attend to patients undergoing heart transplants. Locally, more than 900 patients are waiting for a liver, kidney, heart or pancreas transplant. Hundreds of others in our area will be helped this year by tissue transplants such as cornea, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves.

“We are thrilled to host Ms. Chopra as we celebrate the transplant program’s achievements,” Barry said. “Through our Bollywood theme, we also pay tribute to the many outstanding local Indian physicians who help make this community so medically robust and respected. We’re very grateful to the Chopra family for their support.”

Tickets for the event are $175. For an additional cost, guests may attend a VIP reception with Priyanka Chopra before the gala. Call (585) 276-5169 for reservations. For more information about the event, as well as organ donation and transplantation news, log on to Barry’s blog, or the Facebook page for URMC’s bLifeNY donor awareness campaign.