East Texas Medical Center announced the suspension of its kidney transplant program in a press release issued Monday morning.

According to ETMC, the suspension is due to increasing regulations that is making it harder for smaller programs such as theirs to remain viable.

“Our overarching goal is to ensure a safe and seamless transition for patients and those awaiting transplants as they move to other programs,” said Maria Kulma, vice president of patient services at ETMC Tyler. “Our dedicated team will remain in place to support our transplantation patients.”

The transplant team is proud they were able to sustain the program for more than three decades, and performed 21 transplants in 2017.

ETMC Tyler is implementing a communications plan to reach out to patients and to work closely with them throughout this transition. “Patients are our No. 1 priority as we make this change,” Kulma added.

Transplantation programs have closed across the nation and in Texas in recent years, including University Medical Center in Lubbock and South Texas Transplant Center in the Rio Grande Valley.

The program will be phased out within the next six months.