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About the Program

The University of North Carolina’s Division of Abdominal Transplant Surgery was awarded fellowship certification by the American Society of Transplant surgeons in May 2000. A transplant surgical fellow applicant must be completing a residency in General Surgery (or the foreign equivalent). All ASTS certified fellowships in liver and kidney transplantation are a minimum of 24 months. The fellow will be integrally involved in all aspects of patient care: evaluation for transplantation both as an outpatient and under urgent inpatient circumstances; operative and peri-operative surgical, medical and immunosuppressive care; and post-transplant in-patient and chronic out-patient management.

Routine practices of a fellow’s education will include the following: both deceased and live-donor surgeries, laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy as well as laparoscopic and open native nephrectomies, and live partial liver donation. General surgery of all types is also performed, particularly on post-transplant patients and renal or liver failure patients. We are also a major referral for hepatobiliary surgery.

Please note: The program will not be participating in the 2023 Abdominal Transplant Surgery Fellowship Match for 2024 positions. The program will be open for the 2024 Abdominal Transplant Surgery Fellowship Match for 2025 positions (start date July 1, 2025).


Program Description

I. Transplant Surgery Fellowship Program

The UNC Department of Surgery, Division of Abdominal Transplant provides a comprehensive service performing transplant procedures on adult and pediatric patients. On average each academic year we perform 60-80 kidney and liver transplants from deceased and live donors and 4-8 pancreas transplants. We also have a kidney transplant program for highly sensitized recipients. All multi-organ deceased donor procurements and live donor laparoscopic or open nephrectomies and live donor partial hepatectomies are performed by the transplant division. In addition, UNC Hospitals vascular access surgeries are performed by the transplant service with participation of the transplant fellows.

Currently, we train one fellow at a time. The fellow’s training and responsibilities evolve with experience and clinical exposure during the academic year. The goal of our program is to train individuals who will not only be capable to perform surgery but also will be able to interact with all medical and supportive services and will be able to assume a leading position in managing the care of transplant recipients from the evaluation process to the long term post transplant follow up. Our renal and liver transplant services are led by the same surgical faculty which allows for exposure to a variety of surgical techniques and maintenance of adequate surgical skills during the entire period of training. More…

Current Fellow

Kunal Kapoor (2023-present)

Past Fellows

  • Aman Kumar, MD (2020-2022)
  • Jonathan Garcia, MD
  • Phillip Pepple, MD (2013-2015)
  • Robert A. Watson, MD (2005-2007)
  • Kerri Ann Simo, MD (2007-2009)
  • Ninad Deshmukh, MD (2009-2011)
  • Wael Elkady, MD (2011-2013)

Applicant Requirements

  • USMLE Steps 1-3
  • US Residency or equivalent (visa) paperwork
  • Ability to obtain NC permanent medical license
  • US Graduates
    • Graduation from school accredited by LCME or AOA
    • 1 year of accredited graduate medical training
  • Foreign Graduates
    • ECFMG certified
    • 3 years of accredited graduate medical training


Abdominal Transplant Surgery credentialing requires standard completion of all requirements to practice General Surgery (American Board of Surgery licensed) and the completion of an American Society of Transplant Surgeons’ accredited fellowship.

For fellowship candidates, such credentialing under Medical Staff requires U.S. residency or equivalent (VISA paperwork) and a NC permanent medical license as described below.

Except for graduates of foreign medical schools, applicants must have graduated from a medical school accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and have successfully completed at least one year of accredited graduate training. They must also have passed the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or its equivalent. For foreign medical graduates, all steps of the USMLE must be completed in addition to being able to obtain a NC permanent medical license. Physicians who are graduates of schools that are not accredited by the LCME or the AOA (foreign medical schools) must have been individually certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, have successfully completed at least three years of accredited graduate medical training, and have passed the USMLE or its equivalent.

The specific procedures required for completion of an American Society of Transplant Surgeons’ accredited fellowship include: abdominal cadaveric organ procurement and living donor procurement of abdominal organs and/or parts of organs (e.g. partial liver resections for live donation). In addition, they must be able to order immunosuppressive medications for care of the abdominal organ transplant patient. Other routine privileges may include vascular access procedures for hemodialysis or liver replacement therapies and future cell therapy, as well as all procedures covered under General Surgery.

All medical and surgical directorships of abdominal organ transplant programs must be transplant fellowship trained individuals.

How To Apply

  • a letter of interest
  • current curriculum vitae
  • three letters of reference
  • documentation of USMLE steps 1-3
  • ECFMG certification (foreign graduates)
  • a recent photograph
  • a personal statement addressing your career interests
  • VISA (if applicable)
  • Interested applicants are also required to register with the National Residency Matching Program. Visit for further details.
  • Note: The program will not be participating in the 2023 Abdominal Transplant Surgery Fellowship Match for 2024 positions. The program will be open for the 2024 Abdominal Transplant Surgery Fellowship Match for 2025 positions (start date July 1, 2025).

Please send all items as a complete package. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.


Dr. Chirag Desai
Program Director
Department Transplant Surgery
4024 Burnett Womack CB# 7211
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
Phone: 919-966-8008
Fax: 919-966-6308
Stacey Owen
Fellowship Coordinator
UNC-CH Department of Surgery
4057 Burnett Womack CB #7050
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
Fax: 919-966-6009