Sanjay Kulkarni, MD, is a multi-organ transplant surgeon and medical director of the Center for Living Organ Donors at Yale New Haven Hospital. In this role Dr. Kulkarni helped pioneer a unique initiative that is first in the United States of its kind. The Center for Living Organ Donors creates supportive communities of living donors and provides them with free, lifelong local medical monitoring for any health issues that may arise related to their organ donation.
“I think I have the best job in the world,” says Dr. Kulkarni. “I deal with living organ donors every single day—individuals who constantly remind you what a major difference one person’s generosity can make in another person’s life, and for the benefit of society.”
Dr. Kulkarni performs all living donor evaluations and 95 percent of kidney donor surgeries for Yale Medicine. He has played a role in such high-profile surgeries as Connecticut’s first eight-patient kidney transplant exchange in 2015. In this complex match-up, four women underwent surgery to give four men the kidneys they needed.
Dr. Kulkarni is also the surgical director of the Yale Medicine Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program, a destination center for patients who need these transplants, and the largest program for both kidney transplantation and living-donor kidney transplantation in New England. Dr. Kulkarni and his colleagues in the program specialize in minimally invasive surgical approaches, which typically reduce pain and hasten recoveries.
An associate professor of transplant surgery and of nephrology at Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Kulkarni is also the scientific director of the Yale Transplant Research Unit, which pursues new therapies for transplant patients. His personal research explores the ethics surrounding care of living donors, understanding the reasons why some people come forward to be considered as a donor then opt out, and the use of social networking to foster donor communities.