Posts Tagged ‘Emory Transplant Center’

Belatacept Provides Better Kidney Survival Rates than Current Standard of Care

transplant drugA study of kidney transplant recipients has shown for the first time that the drug belatacept (Nulojix), which controls the immune system and prevents graft rejection, has a better record of patient and organ survival than a calcineurin inhibitor, the current standard of care.

Patients who have undergone kidney transplant are required to take medications to prevent their immune systems from rejecting their new organs. A calcineurin inhibitor (CNIs) is generally used for post kidney transplant patients, but long-term use can damage transplanted kidneys and may lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Belatacept acts as a “co-stimulation blocker,” inhibiting one of two signals the T cells need to trigger an immune response. And unlike the currently used CNIs, it is not toxic to the kidney. In fact, it helps preserve the function of the kidney over the long term and is more effective in suppressing antibodies against the kidney, which are important causes of organ loss.

Emory University School of Medicine Dean and kidney and pancreas transplant surgeon, Dr. Christian Larsen, played a key role in developing belatacept, together with Emory Transplant Center Executive Director and Livingston Professor of Surgery, Dr. Thomas Pearson. Belatacept was approved by the FDA in 2011 and is produced by Bristol Myers Squibb.

The study, called BENEFIT (Belatacept Evaluation of Nephroprotection and Efficacy as First-line Immunosuppression Trial), was sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb and began in 2006. FDA approval of belatacept in 2011 was partly based on the first three years of results. Results from the worldwide study, led by Dr. Larsen and University of California San Francisco kidney transplant surgeon, Dr. Flavio Vincenti, were published in the Jan. 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The seven-year, multi-center study showed that kidney transplant recipients taking belatacept experienced a rate of mortality and graft loss significantly lower than patients taking a CNI-based regimen. The risk of death or loss of the transplanted kidney after seven years was 12.7 percent for belatacept, compared to 21.7 percent for cyclosporine A.
“While the best uses of belatacept still need additional definition, these results indicate that using belatacept as standard of care has the potential to improve long-term outcomes that matter to patients,” says Dr. Larsen.

Belatacept is given by infusion monthly at a doctor’s office, in contrast to CNIs, which are taken in daily pills at home. Many U.S. insurance companies now cover belatacept as medically necessary for kidney transplant patients.

Putting the Care of Our Transplant Patients First

patients firstThe Emory Transplant Center is very grateful to our compassionate and dedicated employees and faculty who treat our patients with the highest level of care possible. We strive to deliver outstanding quality with every patient interaction every day. Sometimes, all it takes is a smile to make someone feel special. The Emory Transplant Center is proud to share some excellent patient and family comments we have received highlighting the care we give.

  • I love case coordinator Ms. Santiba [Johnson, kidney transplant coordinator]. She went out of her way to make sure I was informed, comfortable and had what I needed to make an informed decision.
  • I am extremely pleased with Dr. [James] Spivey and all of the personnel in the transplant center. They saved my life not just with the liver transplant, but also with all of the issues and meds that I had after the transplant. I was fortunate to be able to receive a transplant. No one believes that I was ever as sick as I was. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, Emory!
  • I love the staff. I visit the Emory [outpatient] transplant clinic every month. Most of the people working there know me by name.
  • The nurses in the infusion area are all excellent. They are always friendly and have a great attitude. They make sure I’m ok.
  • All of my experiences have been over and beyond my expectations, whether small to me or large to me. My prescription refills after calling Emory is an ease and a joy. Please don’t change the warmth of the employees — they are Human and Real, and the Best. Hats off to Emory.
  • The staff has always been lovely to my family and me. Fast, efficient service with well explained process and services being done.
  • The heart transplant team is terrific. They have taken great care of me during the past 15 years.
  • Love the doctors, especially Dr. [John Paul] Norvell, and we love the front [desk] staff. It is a soothing atmosphere while waiting.
  • Wonderful staff at registration. Cheerful and genuinely sincere in making the patient and family feel at ease.

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Reminder to Patients, Friends and Family to Help Prevent the Flu

seasonal fluThe flu season is just getting started. Luckily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) latest report for the 2015-2016 flu season, overall flu cases have been fairly low so far this year. But as the winter continues, the CDC estimates that flu cases will rise. Therefore, while Emory Transplant Center employees and faculty have been vaccinated against the flu, this is a good time to remind our patients, family and friends to take preventive action now, and if you have not done so yet, get your flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent infection and the spread of influenza. It is up to 90 percent effective in healthy people less than 65 years old.

To learn more about the seasonal flu vaccine and a listing of frequently asked questions, visit Emory Healthcare’s seasonal flue vaccine page. Additional information about preventing the seasonal flu and the benefits of vaccination can found on the CDC’s flu prevention website.

Happy Holidays from the Emory Transplant Center

transplant-ribbonNo matter what your religious beliefs or cultural background, the holidays are a time to reflect on our extraordinary blessings and appreciate the love in our lives as we spend time with family and friends. The Emory Transplant Center has so much to be grateful for this season: our skilled faculty and staff, the excellence of our world-class transplant facilities, the satisfaction of helping our transplant patients, and most importantly, our donor families who have given the gift of life.

Without a doubt the Emory Transplant Center is one of the busiest transplant centers in the country, offering hundreds of patients in this area a chance at renewed lives. This only occurs through the benefits of organ transplantation each year. Without the selfless acts of kindness from donors and donor families, we wouldn’t have the wonderful stories of hope that we have every day. Please take a moment from your busy schedules this holiday season to salute these kind gifts.

Make your wishes known to your family and sign a donor card to become an organ donor.

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Fox 5 Atlanta Health Reporter Gives the Gift of Life

fox5 atlantaFox 5 Atlanta’s health reporter, Beth Galvin, started a chain of her own this past June when she donated her kidney at Emory Transplant Center for kidney transplant. In her two decades as a TV reporter, she saw many patients with end-stage renal disease on dialysis, and she wanted to help. She also was inspired by a story she covered in 2013 on Fox 5 about Chamblee Assistant Police Chief Mike Beller, a father of five who donated his kidney at Emory University Hospital (EUH). Galvin took a few weeks off from work and donated her own kidney at EUH last summer. Dr. Nicole Turgeon, Surgical Director of the Paired Donor Exchange Program, was her surgeon.

Galvin told her story at the October 24th Atlanta Trends in Transplant conference, hosted by Georgia Transplant Foundation. “I never expected the donor journey to be so emotional and spiritual,” she wrote on her Facebook page before her speaking engagement. “I began the process because I felt my inner compass was pointing me in this direction. Then, I stuck with it because I kept seeing signs I was on the right path.”

Galvin’s donated kidney was flown to the University of California at Los Angeles, where it transformed the life of a 41-year-old man on the waitlist there. He is a married father of two children and a volunteer baseball and softball coach. This was his second kidney transplant, which has saved him from the rigors of 4 a.m. dialysis before going to work. Galvin was one of six donors in a chain facilitated by the National Kidney Registry that ended up with six recipients who received new kidneys across the country.

Read Galvin’s first-person account in the fall issue of Emory Medicine magazine. To watch her story on Fox 5, click here.

Learn more about the Emory Transplant Center’s living donor program.

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The True Meaning of Thanksgiving

In the true spirit of giving, watch this heartwarming story of how an Emory Transplant Center patient, Bret Reiff, received a kidney from a 21 year-old stranger, Carley Teat.

“She is truly an angel in my heart. That’s all I got to say,” says Reiff.

As we reflect on this Thanksgiving holiday and of all that we are thankful for, let’s remember those who have given the generous donation of life through organ transplantation.

To learn more about living donor kidney transplantation, and the Emory Transplant Center’s Kidney Transplant program, visit emoryhealthcare.org/transplant-kidney.

Emory Living Donor Kidney Program Meets Transplant Goal

Living Kidney Donor Transp;lantThe Emory Transplant Center’s Living Donor Kidney Program set a lofty goal to perform 100 adult and pediatric transplants in fiscal year 2015 (9/1/14–‐8/31/15). And we are proud to announce that they achieved their goal.

By July 31st of this year, the Living Donor Kidney Program had just about met expectations, with 85 successful living donor kidney transplants performed at Emory University Hospital, and 12 at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston Hospital. The 100th transplant was less than a week later on August 6, 2015. By the end of August, the Program performed a total of 112 transplants. This total included 23 paired donor transplants that had donors matched by the National Kidney Registry in FY15.

Motivated by the challenge to transplant 100 patients in FY15, the team aspired even higher this fiscal year and is now projecting 100 adult and 15 pediatric transplants in FY16. Emory has a vibrant living donor program, thanks to the possibilities offered by widening the potential donor pool and making paired donor matches through the National Kidney Registry (NKR).

“I have to note that we had six ‘non‐designated donors’ from Emory who started ‘chains’ or ‘swaps’ in the NKR,” reports Sharon Mathews, lead transplant coordinator, Living Donor Kidney Program. “Through the selfless donation of these altruistic donors, 25 patients received kidney transplants around the U.S.”

According to Mathews, “Living donation can provide end-stage renal disease [ESRD] patients with a better chance of finding a compatible match and improve their outcomes and quality of life than a deceased donor match. Living donation, especially when facilitated by the NKR, a national paired donor exchange program, can speed the process to find compatible donors for patients and reduce wait times.”

Emory has been a member of the National Kidney Registry’s exchange since 2011 and is the second largest paired donor program in the country, matching a total of 29 paired donor transplants over the last 12 months. The 112 living donor transplants in FY15 is a 35% increase over last year, which had 83 adult and pediatric transplants in FY14.

“I really appreciate how hard the kidney team worked to make this happen,” remarked Dr. Nicole Turgeon, surgical director of the living donor program. “Our patients truly benefit from your teamwork.”

Great job, Living Donor Kidney Program team!

Emory Transplant Center Ranks 7th Nationally

The Emory Transplant Center ranks 7th among transplant programs across the nation based on adult transplant volumes. In calendar year 2014, we performed 441 adult transplants that placed us 7th overall, tied with Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Our top 10 ranking puts us among good company.

 

 

 

 

 

And with the recent release of the latest Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) data, it revealed that all Emory solid organ programs, when risk-adjusted, are similar to if not statistically different from the national data and meet expectations for performance set by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) Membership Professional Standards Committee (MPSC).

The new SRTR center-specific data included the following one-year graft and patient survival rates for our patients:

Heart:
Patient survival rate: 90.4% (actual) vs. 90.75% (expected)
Graft survival rate: 80.95% (actual) vs. 84.3% (expected)

Kidney:
Patient survival: 98.1% (actual) vs. 97.4% (expected)
Graft survival: 95% (actual) vs. 94.4% (expected)

Kidney/Pancreas:
Patient survival: 100% (actual) vs. 97.9% (expected)
Graft survival: 100% (actual) vs. 95.8% (expected)

Liver:
Patient survival: 93.8% (actual) vs. 91.6% (expected)
Graft survival: 91.7% (actual) vs. 89.2% (expected)

Lung:
Patient survival: 84.7% (actual) vs. 87.1% (expected)
Graft survival: 84.5% (actual) vs. 90% (expected)

*adults; cohort 1/1/12 – 6/30/14 (deaths and re-transplants were counted as graft failures)

Also of note, the Emory Kidney Transplant program’s three-year graft survival remains statistically greater than expected (p < 0.05) with outcomes of 89.48% (actual) vs. 86.29% (expected).

Our experience coupled with continued excellent outcomes in all solid organ programs make the Emory Transplant Center a leading transplant destination in the Southeast and the nation, serving patients in Georgia and bordering states. We are proud to be your transplant center.

Site Visits Show Emory Transplant Center’s Patients are in Excellent Hands

GoldSeal_4colorSuccess in a transplant center is measured by many standards — high patient and graft survival rates, satisfied patients and quality care, to name a few — but Emory really does stand out
when national regulatory agencies come for required site visits. Three agencies, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the Joint Commission (TJC) and the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), visited the Emory Transplant Center (ETC) this year. Their hard work was evident in the positive comments we received from the surveyors.

For the first time in ETC’s history, the Joint Commission surveyed hospital-based outpatient clinics during their site visit in July – this included both the ETC’s Outpatient Transplant Clinics at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital and the Emory Clinic.

“The surveyor was happy with the nurses’ notes on a sample procedure stating, ‘This is the only chart I have ever read that has all the information I was looking for when a patient is being discharged from the clinic after a procedure.’ She was impressed.”, reports Joji Taganajan, nurse manager.

Our CMS re-certification survey was conducted the last week of April. The reviewers surveyed Emory’s heart, kidney, liver, lung, and pancreas programs, examining medical records for documentation of the multiple CMS conditions of participation, reviewing ETC policies, practices, and quality assessment and performance improvement (QAPI) programs. All five transplant programs were re-certified.

Additional good news came to the programs on July 13 in the form of letters from the UNOS Membership and Professional Standards Committee (MPSC). The MPSC reported results of its routine on-site review of the programs, conducted by the UNOS staff the week of January 26. The purpose of the survey, which is conducted every three years, is to review and analyze transplant program compliance with UNOS/OPTN (Organ Procurement and Transplant Network) policies. All ETC programs passed with scores between 92 and 100.

A heartfelt thank you goes out to all our transplant staff, faculty and leadership who provide our patients and families excellent clinical care on a daily basis, while achieving impressive quality outcomes and meeting the multiple federal regulatory requirements for transplant centers.

Emory Transplant Center Celebrates National Minority Donor Awareness Week

multi-ethnicAugust is a good time to honor our minority donors who make the benefits of transplantation possible. National Minority Donor Awareness Week, celebrated annually on August 1-7, is a nationwide observance to honor the generosity of multicultural donors and their families, while also underscoring the critical need for people from diverse communities to become organ donors.

The Emory Transplant Center is committed to bringing attention to the critical need for organ donors. The need for minority donors is especially profound.

2014 Statistics:

  • 58% of individuals on the national organ transplant waiting list were comprised of minorities (this number includes Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, American Indians, Pacific Islanders and people of multiracial decent)
  • 32%
of all deceased donors were minorities
  • 42%
of all those receiving transplants were minorities
    (Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services)

We would like to honor minorities who have been donors, and encourage others to register as donors. A greater diversity of donors may potentially increase access to transplantation for everyone. For more information, please visit organdonor.gov and “Why Minority Donors Are Needed.”