Media Advisory

For Immediate Release:

April 9, 2019

Media Contact:

Tania Leets



Celebrating the Gift of Life – One Year Later

Transplant patients and families unite at National Donate Life Month reunion event at Jackson Memorial Hospital


Carlos Migoya, president and CEO, Jackson Health System
Luke Preczewski, vice president, Miami Transplant Institute
David Zambrana, chief executive officer, Jackson Memorial Hospital
Rodrigo Vianna, director, Miami Transplant Institute and chief of liver, intestinal, and multivisceral transplant
Alessandra Lambertini and parents, multivisceral transplant recipient
Jermaine Chambers, kidney transplant donor
Gerard Daphnis, kidney transplant recipient
Other organ transplant patients and their families


For almost 50 years, the Miami Transplant Institute (MTI) at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center has been making miracles – by giving a second chance at life to patients from all over the world.

To celebrate April’s National Donate Life Month, MTI is honoring patients who are celebrating one year post-organ transplant surgery. Previous transplant recipients will also share their stories of how transplantation has impacted their lives in the hopes of promoting awareness on the importance of becoming an organ donor.

MTI is one of the most comprehensive transplant programs and the second largest in the nation, with surgeons performing more than 650 transplants in 2018. It is also the only center in South Florida that performs all organ transplants for both adult and pediatric patients.

MTI’s individual organ programs were also recognized based on 2018 patient volume:

  • The kidney program is now the largest in the country with 433 transplantations done, breaking a national record of the largest volume performed by a U.S. transplant program since the OPTN started keeping records.
  • The pediatric intestinal/multivisceral program is ranked number 1, with the highest patient survival rates in the nation.
  • The abdominal program is ranked number 1.
  • The pancreas adult program is ranked number 2.
  • The pediatric program in total was the fourth largest, as was pediatric liver specifically.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), every 10 minutes someone is added to the national transplant waiting list and, on average, 20 people die each day while waiting for a transplant. One organ donor can save eight lives – and it is because of these donors and their families that the MTI team is able to perform this lifesaving work.
Nearly 200 attendees, including former patients, doctors, and transplant staff, are expected at the dinner.

The Guest Speakers/ Stories

Former University of Miami football players, Gerard Daphnis and Jermaine Chambers were top recruitment in the early 1990s, both enrolling in school right around Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida. Chambers, a wide receiver from Homestead High School and Daphnis, a tight end from Miami Norland High School, were already making headlines in Sports Illustrated during their freshman year of college.

Shortly after graduation, Daphnis was diagnosed with diabetes and began dialysis. For several years, no one knew just how much his health had deteriorated.

But Daphnis and Chamber’s life journey would cross paths again. Daphnis finally disclosed to close friends that he needed a kidney transplant and little did he know, the gift of life would come from his former UM teammate.

They successful kidney transplant surgery happened on January 10, 2019, at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Chambers recently turned 45 and Daphnis is 44 years old – both healthy and advocates for organ donation.

Seven days after Karina Lambertini gave birth to twin girls in May 2013, her daughter Alessandra wouldn’t eat. Lambertini knew something was wrong.

Doctors at a hospital in Palm Beach delivered heartbreaking news: Alessandra had intestinal malrotation, an abnormality that can happen early in pregnancy when a baby’s intestines don’t form into a coil in the abdomen and could not be detected. The blood flow stopped, and medical staff tried to revive the intestine but they were unsuccessful. Alessandra, who could not absorb nutrients by mouth, spent over two months in intensive care before the parents learned about the Miami Transplant Institute (MTI).

“We were shocked – watching our baby on that table thinking the worse and seeing her unresponsive,” said Lambertini. “I thought she was actually dying.”

In July 2013, Karina and her husband Axel met with physicians from MTI who took on Alessandra’s case. The first step was to get the baby to gain weight through the pre-transplant clinic, led by Jennifer Garcia, MD, medical director of intestinal rehabilitation. But shortly after, doctors determined Alessandra would need a multivisceral transplant after her liver had been affected due to TPN.

She was listed on the transplant list in July 2014. That same year, just before the holidays, Alessandra underwent a successful surgery led by Rodrigo Vianna, director, Miami Transplant Institute and chief of liver, intestinal, and multivisceral transplant and Thiago Beduschi, MD, transplant surgeon.

“The chance of having Alessandra with us – this is what we are thankful for and for those parents that said yes to organ donation,” said Karina. “She’s going to do great things in life.”

Alessandra and her twin will turn 6 in May.


5 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 10


Jackson Memorial Hospital
Ira Clark Diagnostic Treatment Center, room 259
1080 N.W. 19th Street
Miami, FL 33136

Editor's Note:

  • Media can park in front of the Clark DTC.
  • The Lambertini family speaks Spanish.

For more information on MTI’s rankings, retrieve the info-graphic by clicking here.

Jackson Health System

1611 N.W. 12th Avenue Miami, FL 33136