Posts Tagged ‘emory transplant’

Stranger Gives Holiday Gift to Georgia Teen

This time of year, during the holiday season, most people are shopping for family and loved ones trying to find that perfect gift. Well, a 16-year old Georgia teen received that perfect gift from a complete stranger – she received the gift of life.

Kelly Bundick, a 42-year old medical sales rep and single mother of a 5-year old son and a 12-year old daughter, decided to donate one of her kidneys to the Georgia teen. Kelly saw a photo of the teenager on the Callaway Facebook page. You may remember Raleigh Callaway, a kidney transplant recipient who received a lot of media attention when his wife posted a message on Facebook with their two children holding a sign that read, “Our Daddy Needs a Kidney.” They were able to find a donor, and Raleigh had his kidney transplant surgery at Emory. To give back, the Callaway family continues the Callaway Facebook page to spread the word for others who are in need of a kidney and searching for a living donor.

This was the first time a child had been featured on the Callaway Facebook page, and Kelly knew she had to help the teen.

Watch the video below to see how the story unfolds…this truly is the holiday of giving.

Dr. Nicole Turgeon, who performed Kelly’s operation, is Director of Emory’s Living Donor Kidney Transplant Program. The Emory Transplant Center has a well-established program, performing more than 1,200 living donor transplants to date.

“I really cherish the opportunity to work with these donors because they put themselves in harm’s way,” Dr. Turgeon says. “So, I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility to them as well as to the potential recipient.”

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Your Organ Donation Questions Answered: Takeaways from Our Live Chat

organ-donor260x200Thank you to everyone who joined us for Emory Transplant Center’s live web chat on the topic of organ donation. With April serving as Donate Life month, we wanted to raise awareness around organ donation and answer your specific questions. Lead Transplant Coordinator, Sharon Mathews, MS, RN, CPTC, answered questions about organ donation, including how many people are currently waiting for an organ, what organs can be donated, and who can donate. She also discussed Emory Transplant Center’s living donor and paired donor exchange programs.

Below are just a few highlights from the chat. If you missed this informative chat, check out the full list of questions and answers located on our chat transcript. You may also visit the Emory Transplant Center website for more information. And for more information on how to become an organ donor, visit donatelife.net.

Question: How long can an organ stay viable during transport?

Sharon Mathews: For solid organs, heart and lungs are viable for 4-6 hours, livers up to 12 hours, the pancreas is viable for 12-18 hours and kidneys remain viable up to 24- 30 hours on ice. The goal is to transplant the organs within 8 hours or less of being recovered.

Question: Do you have to be on kidney dialysis before you can be put on the wait list for a kidney?

Sharon Mathews: No, if you have been referred to a transplant center and are undergoing evaluation for transplant, you can have potential living donors call in on your behalf. The initial screening tests can be done at this point in the process. However, you will not become active on the UNOS wait list until your kidney function meets protocol for transplantation.

Question: If my blood type doesn’t match my recipient’s what are my options?

Sharon Mathews: At Emory we are involved with the National Kidney Registry (a paired donor exchange program). In a paired exchange, a donor will donate their kidney to another recipient in exchange for a compatible kidney for their loved one. This can occur on the same day. So while they didn’t walk away with your kidney, they received a kidney that was the best match donor possible.

Currently more than 115,000 men, women and children are awaiting a life-saving transplant. They are in need of organs, tissue, and bone marrow which can all be transplanted if donors were available, giving recipients a second chance at life. Perhaps the most important message from the live chat is the one on the importance of organ donation and how it can have a huge impact on people’s lives.

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Gifts from the Heart

event1National Heart Month would not be complete without Heart to Heart, Emory Transplant Center‘s annual fete for heart transplant recipients and candidates, which was on Feb. 20 at the Miller-Ward Alumni House. Sixty heart transplant recipients and eight patients waiting on the heart transplant list — all supported by their family members — celebrated life during the 27th annual Heart to Heart.

The celebrants were at Heart to Heart to show gratitude for their renewed lives made possible by their organ donor families. Each year, the event draws the newest heart transplant patients as well as those who have had their new heart for many years. Three recipients, Earnest Mitchell, Stephanie Harmon and Herbert Kuper were on hand to honor their organ donor families for their lifesaving gifts and meet up with many of their caregivers during the transplant process.

“I give honor and praise daily to my heart donor and his family,” says Mitchell, who was with his wife, Rhonda — newlyweds, really, since they married in 2014. “This date will always be bittersweet, because we understand that this time of celebration for us will always be a time of remembrance for them.”

Mitchell, a Stockbridge resident, is celebrating his one-and-a-half-year anniversary with his new heart. He is pictured above with transplant cardiologist, Rob Cole, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine. After being diagnosed with heart disease in 2006 and then congestive heart failure in 2009, Mitchell and his wife began investigating treatment options for his weak heart. Little did they know that a heart transplant would be his only option for survival.

event3Mitchell was admitted to Emory University Hospital’s coronary care unit (CCU) for constant monitoring and medication to keep his heart functioning while he waited for his new heart. After 139 days in the CCU, he learned a heart was available. He received his transplant on Aug. 15, 2014.

Stephanie Harmon, from Summerville, Ga., received her new heart in Dec. 2015. A surgical first assistant in a Floyd County hospital, Harmon developed breathing problems after an illness in Dec. 2013. An emergency room doctor diagnosed her with heart failure and she was sent by life-flight to Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital, where she spent the next two months hospitalized. She went home with an Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD), a surgically implanted, battery-operated, mechanical pump that sent blood coursing throughout her body.

Eighteen months later, on Dec. 19, 2015, Harmon received the call from the Emory Transplant Center that a heart was available. “I couldn’t believe it, I was in total shock and I couldn’t move,” says Harmon. “My husband instantly started packing our bags.”

Three month after receiving her new heart, Harmon is doing well. Although it is still too early for her to reach out to her donor family, she is very appreciative of the life-saving gift she received.

South African native turned Atlanta resident, Herbert Kuper, developed an abnormal heart rhythm after knee replacement surgery. Doctors determined he had cardiac amyloidosis, or stiff heart syndrome, where clumps of proteins called amyloids take the place of normal heart muscle.

event2Kuper was placed on the heart transplant list, and received his new heart on Feb. 16, 2015. One year later, he is doing well.

“I am so grateful for my heart donor and family,” he reports. “I am also very appreciative of the amazing doctors and nursing staff at Emory University Hospital and Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital that cared for me while I was so sick.”

According to Dr. Cole, “As a heart failure and heart transplant specialist, it is important to celebrate the new lives of our patients each year because of a precious gift they received. It also is important to honor those families who gave selflessly at a time of tragedy for them.”

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.”

Finding a Better Antifungal Agent for Lung Transplant Patients

Transplant_7-16Because human airways are open to airborne fungal spores and pathogens, lung transplant patients are especially susceptible to infections, a major cause of post-transplant disease and even death. A reliable means of preventing fungal infection in lung transplant patients is the drug posaconazole. Even though it serves well for preventing infection, the oral suspension has poor bioavailability, or absorption into the bloodstream, and patients need to have low gastric pH and high dietary fat intake for adequate systemic exposure.

In November 2013, the FDA approved a new formulation, a posaconazole extended-release tablet, which doctors at Emory Transplant Center began prescribing to patients because of its predictable absorption and improved systemic exposure.

“The purpose of the research study was to compare the oral suspension with the extended-release tablets and determine the likelihood of achieving therapeutic posaconazole levels, which provides the optimal benefit for patients,” says Michael Hurtik, clinical pharmacist for the heart and lung transplant programs, who was the first author on the study. He and the team’s pulmonologists, including Emory Lung Transplant Program medical director, Dr. David Neujahr, looked at data from a cohort of Emory Transplant Center patients who received single or bilateral lung transplantation between January 2013 and October 2014, and were treated for four months post-transplant with nebulized amphotericin and posaconazole oral suspension or the extended-release tablets.

The results showed that the use of the new posaconazole extended-release tablets resulted in therapeutic blood levels for fungal prophylaxis more often (87% of patients) than the oral suspension formulation (39%). The lung transplant patients studied also tolerated the tablets well and no one needed a dose reduction or discontinuation of the medication. This study was successful in finding a better antifungal agent for our lung transplant patients that also provides the most optimal health benefit.

Learn more about the Emory Transplant Center.

Donate Life: Georgia Capitol Event Honoring Organ Donors and their Families

Donate Life Light up the WorldEmory Transplant Center patient Amy Tippins was given a second chance at life. This New Year’s Day, she’ll honor the family that saved her life in the 125th Tournament of Roses Parade. Amy, the recipient of a life-saving liver transplant, will honor that gift by riding the Donate Life Rose Parade Float.

This year’s float, with the 2014 theme of “Light Up the World,” honors donors, recipients and their families who have been involved with organ, eye or tissue donation, and hopes to serve as a platform for inspiring others to heal and save the lives of those in need.

Amy is so thankful to her donor and her donor’s family, and has made it her life-mission to be a passionate advocate for organ donation. On December 17 at 11:00 a.m., Amy and other advocates for the cause will meet at the Georgia state capitol to put the finishing touches on decorations that will become part of “Light Up the World.” Amy, along with her donor’s family, will complete a floragraph of her donor’s image composed entirely of flowers and other organic materials. The floragraph will then travel to Pasadena to be placed on the float.

Amy will be joined at the capitol by Emory Transplant Center surgeon and surgical director of the Paired Donor Exchange Program, Dr. Nicole Turgeon, along with additional members of the Emory Healthcare team, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Grady Health System, Columbus Regional Health, Donate Life Georgia, LifeLink Foundation, the Georgia Eye Bank and many others involved in the organ transplantation process in Georgia.

The event is open to the public. Please visit Donate Life Georgia’s Light up the World Facebook page for details.

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Emory Transplant Center Supports the National Kidney Foundation

The Emory Transplant Center helped support the annual National Kidney Foundation Atlanta Walk, a fundraiser that benefits many of our patients in a multitude of ways. This year’s Team Emory, which walked in memory of the late Meg Jeffrey for the third year in a row, raised more than $6,000 for the NKF Atlanta Walk 2013, which was held on June 8. The team contributed the third largest amount out of 163 Atlanta teams participating in the event — quite an accomplishment.

“Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible with a donation of money or time,” says Team Emory’s coordinator, Jennifer Everett-Kitchens, physician assistant in the abdominal transplant programs. “My family and I are so proud to have helped organize this year’s NKF walk.”

Emory Transplant Center Team

Emory Transplant Center Team 2013
(Not shown are Satrina Hill, RN, manager of the Outpatient Transplant Clinic, and Nicole Turgeon, MD, who arrived a little late. She had just finished performing a transplant that morning!)

One of the walk’s most ardent supporters was John Fox, Emory Healthcare president and CEO, who supported Team Emory at the Silver level sponsorship. Chick-fil-A provided breakfast for walkers again this year. Dawn Fletcher, senior manager for clinical services and operations for the kidney program, and her daughter Lexi raised $300 during a bake sale.

“The Atlanta Walk has been an uplifting, team-building experience for the past three years,” Everett-Kitchens says. “The walk is an important ETC tradition that my family and I intend to continue to participate in, and we hope more of you will be able to join us next year.”

“We had several patients join us for the walk this year, which was really fantastic,” wrote ETC executive director Dr. Thomas Pearson in an email thanking walkers. He and Dr. Stephen Pastan, medical director of the kidney transplant program, were co-chairs of the walk again this year. “I hope that those of you that weren’t able to join us this year will be able to come next year. The walk has been a great opportunity to gather outside of work, and enjoy each other.”

“For those of us who knew Meg, worked with Meg, or were touched by her in any positive way, we can be certain that countless people across the state of Georgia are alive and healthier today in part because of her efforts and caring spirit,” Dr. Pearson continued.

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Emory Transplant Center Performs First Triple Organ Transplant Procedure in Georgia

The team at the Emory Transplant Center has performed more organ transplants in the state of Georgia than any other transplant center. Because the Georgia community trusts the expertise of our transplant team, we have performed some of the most complex transplant procedures in the area. Our team performed the first hand transplant in the state of Georgia and the Southeast, for example, and we’ve performed over half of the multi-organ transplants in Georgia. While you’ve seen us share stories like that of Jo Ellen Kimball and her double lung transplant, multi-organ transplants are rare, making up just over 1% of all transplant procedures conducted in Georgia since 1988. But even more rare, is a double transplant involving a heart and a liver, with only 60 of these procedures having been performed in the U.S. And even more rare, a triple transplant, involving the transplantation of a heart, liver and kidney.

Stephanie Lindstrom

Stephanie Lindstrom

Today, thanks to a triple organ transplant, a 37-year-old mother of two in Georgia is celebrating Christmas with a renewed spirit of hope and thankfulness this year. Just five months ago, Stephanie Lindstrom received a triple organ transplant at Emory University Hospital, the first triple transplant ever to be performed in the state of Georgia.

Following a lifetime battle of congenital heart complications, Stephanie’s condition became critical this summer when she was told she would need not only a new heart, but that she would also need a new liver and kidney. All other interventions to help her were not successful.

“Because of Stephanie’s heart failure, she developed liver failure. Then she became septic, which led to kidney failure. So a triple organ transplant was our only hope to save her,” says Stuart Knechtle, MD, professor of surgery at Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Adult Liver Transplantation Program.

Stephanie, a former marathon runner, was born without a tricuspid valve, which helps move blood through the heart in the right direction. She had four surgeries as a child to repair the problem. After she graduated from college, more heart valve problems occurred, but this time, with her mitral valve. Doctors diagnosed Stephanie with mitral valve regurgitation and said it needed to be corrected.

Stephanie, who lives in South Carolina, scheduled an appointment with Wendy Book, MD, associate professor of medicine at Emory and medical director of Emory’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program. “When I first met Stephanie, I immediately knew she was a resilient, strong willed person who was a fighter,” says Dr. Book. “We knew her heart and liver were in bad shape because of her congenital complications, but problems with her kidney had not yet surfaced.”

In September 2011, Stephanie was placed on the waiting list for a heart and a liver. In May 2012, she contracted cytomegalovirus, and was admitted to the hospital to be put on dialysis and breathing machines. At that point, she was moved up on the waiting list for her new organs, which now included a kidney.

On July 7, 2012, doctors got the call that a match had been found for Stephanie. On that day, both her heart and liver were transplanted during a lengthy surgery.

First Brian Kogon, MD, surgical director of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program transplanted her new heart, assisted by David Vega, MD, director of Emory’s Heart Transplant Program. Then Knechtle and transplant surgeon Andrew Adams, MD, transplanted the liver. The following day, Knechtle transplanted her kidney. All three organs came from the same donor.

“The risks for a triple organ transplant are very high for a patient with a three-system failure, and one we had never attempted before,” says Kogon. “Her previous surgeries and critically-ill state at the time of the transplants made things challenging. But Mrs. Lindstrom’s age and determination to survive made her an ideal candidate for these procedures.”

Stephanie spent the next three months at Emory University Hospital recovering, while battling complications. She was able to return home in October 2012, five months after she was admitted.

“I am so grateful to the doctors, nurses and support staff who made these transplants possible,” says Stephanie. “They have given me a new lease on life. The holiday season has truly taken on such a special meaning to my family and me this year because of the many gifts we have been given.”

Dr. Thomas Pearson Named New Emory Transplant Center Director

Dr. Thomas C. PearsonAs a follow-up to our recent post announcing Emory Transplant Center’s own Christian P. Larsen, MD, DPhil as the new dean of the Emory University School of Medicine, vice president for Health Center Integration for the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center, and chairman of the Board of Directors of The Emory Clinic, we wanted to follow-up with more exciting news. Thomas C. Pearson, MD, DPhil, has been named executive director of the Emory Transplant Center, effective January 15, 2013. Pearson currently is associate director of the Emory Transplant Center, a position he has held since the center’s founding in 2001. He is surgical director of the kidney and pancreas transplant program and Livingston Professor of Surgery in Emory University School of Medicine. He also is an affiliate scientist at Yerkes National Primate Research Center.

“I am so pleased to have Tom Pearson take the reins as the executive director of the Emory Transplant Center. Tom and I have been the closest of friends and collaborators for the past 25 years,” says Larsen. “No one has contributed more to the Emory Transplant Center and our patients than Tom. His impact spans the strategic direction of the center, the culture of collaborative multidisciplinary care and research and the countless hours he gives day and night to patient care. I cannot imagine a more qualified physician, researcher or terrific individual to lead the Transplant Center on its future course.”

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