Before he was named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential and before leading the country’s first uterine transplant trial resulting in a live birth, Giuliano Testa, MD, was a fellow with the Baylor University Medical Center, part of Baylor Scott & White Health, transplant program – a program he now leads.
Dr. Testa first came to the United States in the early 1990s after completing medical school and his initial training in his native Italy. The move was prompted out of a simple desire to become the best surgeon he could be, and he believed the U.S. had a superior surgical training program structure.
After his general surgery residency at the University of Chicago, a similar rationale motivated him to choose Baylor Dallas to pursue a transplant fellowship, which he completed in 1998.
“At the time, Baylor Dallas was one of the few training centers in the United States that really offered a 360-degree program in abdominal organ transplantation, and that’s why I applied here and ended up here,” explains Dr. Testa.
The intensity, technical expertise, and depth and diversity of case experience helped mold him as an internationally renowned leader in transplantation – especially in living donor liver transplantation.
“For what it is to be trained in abdominal organ transplantation was really what I was looking for in terms of volume, in terms of mentorship, in terms of how much further it would take me in my career,” says Dr. Testa.
He also echoes the sentiment of so many Baylor Dallas graduates in describing the way he felt he was viewed during his training, “You were treated more like a junior partner than a fellow or trainee.”
This camaraderie led to long lasting friendships with attendings and others at Baylor Dallas, and it helped pave the way for his return to the medical center as surgical director of Living Donor Liver Transplantation at the Annette C. and Harold C. Simmons Transplant Institute in 2011.
A Second Stint Giving a Second Chance at Life
After completing his transplant fellowship, Dr. Testa went on to receive additional surgical training in live donor liver transplantation, and experienced much success in Germany and Chicago over the next dozen years.
In 2011, he returned to Dallas and Baylor Dallas to bolster the medical center’s living donor transplant program.
“The opportunity to come back to a place I knew, a place I liked and contribute to its further growth was hard to pass up,” says Dr. Testa.
He has been instrumental in the growth of the program, and in 2015, was named surgical chief of Abdominal Transplant for the Simmons Transplant Institute.
Birthing a Transplant First
In early 2016, the Baylor Dallas Transplant Program announced it would be among the first in the U.S. to explore uterus transplantation as a new infertility treatment option. Dr. Testa was the principle investigator for the trial. The clinical trial implanted wombs in ten women with absolute uterine factor infertility, meaning they have a nonfunctioning uterus – or lack of one entirely.
As a result of the trial, a baby boy was born in late 2017 to one
of the participants, marking a medical first in the U.S.
“Personally, I didn’t expect it to mean as much to me as a human being as it did,” Dr. Testa says upon the success of the trial. “Professionally, it’s nice that our whole institution is being highlighted. To be able to contribute to an institution that has been so good to you is always a great way to return the investment.”