Prabhakar Baliga first to be named to Fitts-Raja Endowed Chair in Transplant Surgery
In 2007, MUSC established The Fitts - Raja Endowed Chair in Transplant Surgery to honor both Drs. Raja and Charles Thomas Fitts. Working together for nearly thirty years, Drs. Fitts and Raja forged a close friendship and professional partnership. Establishing the Chair in their names was but a first step toward continuing their efforts to save the lives of countless patients through education and research. Chairman of the Department of Surgery and McKoy Rose Professor Dr. David Cole remarked at the event, “As far as tributes go, it would be difficult to find one more fitting than the one MUSC created for Drs. Fitts and Raja by naming this endowed chair for them. They both played such a pivotal role in setting the institution on a path that elevated the program from one that received little to no recognition to become one of the top transplant centers in the country.”
Also honored at the event were Dr. P. R. Rajagopalan and Dr. Thomas Fitts. Dr. Rajagopalan received the Order of the Palmetto from former Governor of South Carolina and President Emeritus Dr. James B. Edwards who presented the award on behalf of Governor Nikki Haley. Dr. Casey Fitts accepted an honorary award in memory of his father Dr. Thomas Fitts in recognition of his dedicated service to countless grateful patients and to the study and art of organ transplant at MUSC.
Dr. Prabhakar Baliga has led the development of a formidable Transplant program at our institution. Currently a national leader in both quality and outcomes, the program has grown from a mid-size good kidney transplant program to a large volume multi-organ program performing more than 300 transplants. The kidney program in particular has been ranked #1 in quality by UHC 4 years in a row.
Baliga graduated from Madras Medical College, Madras University in December 1982 and went on to complete his General Surgery residency at Tulane University. After completing his General Surgery residency, Dr. Baliga went to University of Michigan where he completed his Transplant Surgery and Critical Care. He was offered a position in July 1992 at MUSC where he was given the job of building both a pediatric liver transplant program and an intestinal transplant program. Since he began his career at MUSC, he has been named Director of Transplant program and has built the program to conduct almost 80 liver transplants per year. The kidney transplant program has also grown steadily and conducts almost 200 transplants a year.
Laura Phillipps, a long-time patient of Dr. Baliga’s and a kidney transplant patient moved the audience with her heartfelt words. “Dr. Baliga and the rest of the transplant team are my heroes, my earthly angels. They are medical geniuses and together form an amazing transplant team that has given me a new lease on life - twice. Dr. Baliga is like family to me and my family. He has given me the best gift he could give me - the gift of being normal. Because he is who he is and he does what he does, I am finally able to be myself again. MUSC is lucky to have him, he is a blessing to me and every patient he encounters. I am forever indebted to him, and, depending on how much water I drink, think of him four to twelve times a day.”
At a ceremony held June 9, 2011, Dr. Prabhakar Baliga, Professor and Chief of the Division of Transplant Surgery was named as the first individual to hold the Fitts-Raja Endowed Chair in Transplant Surgery. Dr. Baliga was presented with this prestigious award in honor of his commitment and dedication to the Division of Transplant Surgery through his leadership, clinical strengths and research achievements. Attending were over 100 MUSC faculty, medical colleagues, staff, grateful patients, family and friends.