Tag Archive | "Miami Transplant Institute"

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In Good Company

Two pioneering women on the UM faculty, Joanna Lombard and Giselle Guerra, are honored with In the Company of Women Awards

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Transplant specialist Giselle Guerra, left, and architect Joanna Lombard were honored for their pioneering contributions to, respectively, health and humans services, and research and education.

MIAMI, Fla. (March 14, 2018) – An architect who has studied the impacts of the built environment on the health and well-being of children and elders and a transplant nephrologist whose hard work and vision helped improve patient outcomes at the nation’s second largest kidney transplant program are recipients of Miami-Dade County’s prestigious “In the Company of Women” award, which recognizes outstanding women who have paved the way for others.

Joanna Lombard, professor in the University of Miami’s School of Architecture, and Giselle Guerra, M.D., associate professor of clinical medicine at the Miller School of Medicine and medical director of the kidney and kidney-pancreas program at the Miami Transplant Institute (MTI), are among 13 distinguished South Florida women who, fittingly, received the award on a day—March 8—that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women: International Women’s Day.

Lombard was honored in the category of Research and Education, while Guerra was recognized for her work in the area of Health and Human Services.

From the very beginning of her career, Lombard set herself apart by breaking the professional mold for women. Her bachelor of architecture from Tulane University, master’s degree in architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and her architecture license were received during a time when men heavily dominated the profession.

She has further distinguished herself with a joint appointment in the Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health Sciences, allowing her to join the fields of architecture, landscape, and public health in her teaching and research.

Guerra, who joined the Miller School faculty 12 years ago, is medical director of the Living Donor Kidney Program at MTI, which she has expanded to give more people life-saving kidney transplant. A collaboration between the University of Miami Health System and Jackson Jealth System, MTI performs about 350 kidney transplants a year—with the best results among large volume centers.

For her work, Lombard collaborates with investigators in UM’s Built Environment, Behavior, and Health Group. In one study, the researchers looked at elementary school-aged boys in Miami’s East Little Havana, investigating whether there was a correlation between their conduct grades and the type of neighborhood block where they lived. What they discovered was that boys who lived in mixed-use blocks had higher conduct grades and performed better in school. The reason?

“When you have a corner store, more adults looking out for children, more eyes on the street, and more interaction—it’s better for people,” Lombard said. The team also studied Hispanic elders in the same area, finding that those who lived on streets with houses that had balconies, porches, and stoops functioned better both mentally and physically than elders who live without such features.

She and Research Assistant Professor Scott C. Brown represent the School of Architecture and the Department of Public Health Sciences, respectively, as charter members of the American Institute of Architects’ Design and Health Research Consortium, an 11-university initiative aimed at investigating how design affects public health.

Lombard’s work in both architectural design and teaching has garnered numerous awards. She was named among the DesignIntelligence 30 Most Admired Educators for 2013, has twice won the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation’s Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Preservation Education/Media award, and has won numerous faculty honors and awards in architectural design.

Guerra’s passion for patients in need of life-saving transplants and her visionary leadership in increasing their chances of getting and surviving one prompted Carlos A. Migoya, president and CEO of Jackson Health System, to nominate her for the “In the Company of Women” award.

“Dr. Giselle Guerra has dedicated her career to giving hope and the gift of life to patients, who are in desperate need of a life-saving transplant,” Migoya said. “She grew and created two successful transplant programs, in which patients receive a kidney from a living donor. These programs have provided amazing benefits to patients, including shorter waiting time for an organ, and better outcomes and survival rates.”

When Guerra joined MTI in 2008, the kidney transplant program was performing very few transplants from living donors. Recognizing that these transplants are the best option for many patients, she began educating the community and growing the program.

In 2012, Guerra created the Hispanic Kidney Transplant Clinic for pre-kidney transplant patients of Hispanic background. Designed to address cultural fears about living donations, the staff’s Spanish-speaking physicians and nurses educate families on the benefits of living donation. “Many people from all backgrounds are concerned about what it means to be a living donor,” Guerra said. “You can donate one of your two kidneys and still work, exercise, have children and enjoy a normal, healthy life.”

While growing the Living Donor Kidney Program, Guerra felt that there was more to be done to help MTI patients. In 2014, she created the Paired Exchange Program, which allows recipients to receive a better-matched kidney, and speeds up the transplant process. On July 9, 2014, MTI successfully performed Florida’s first three-way paired kidney exchange transplant, involving three donors and three recipients. The next year the MTI team performed Florida’s first four-way paired kidney exchange.

Drawing on her experience, Guerra has assisted transplant centers across the United States, as well as in Argentina and Mexico, in developing living donor and paired exchange programs that can help the 96,000 people in the U.S. waiting for a kidney from a deceased donor.

Through research studies, Guerra has focused on improving the outcomes of transplant patients. Recently, she was appointed principal investigator of a national study that focuses on the mutation of the apolipoprotein L1 gene (APOL1) in African Americans and people of African descent, and how this variant leads to chronic kidney disease. The study, set to start this year, will also look at the outcomes of patients who receive a kidney from a person carrying this mutated gene. The results of this new study will help make improvements in the allocations of kidneys. The study will involve a consortium of organ procurement organizations in Florida and Puerto Rico, as well as 13 other transplant centers in the country.

“As a woman leader in an industry that has been historically led by men, Dr. Guerra has mentored many women,” Migoya said. “Several of her mentees, including a few women, have become medical directors of transplant programs at other hospitals, or have become associate professors of clinical medicine at the University of Miami Health System.”

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Four Miami Transplant Institute Programs Recognized for Excellence

The Miami Transplant Institute at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center has been awarded silver and bronze medals from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Transplantation for its kidney, kidney/pancreas, lung, and heart transplant programs.

The institute’s kidney transplant program was one of only nine in the United States to receive a silver medal at the October 4 Medal of Honor ceremony in Grapevine, Texas.

Silver medals also were awarded to the kidney/pancreas and lung transplant programs. The heart transplant program received bronze.

Programs were recognized based on post-transplant survival rates, transplant rates, and mortality rates after patients are placed on waiting lists.

“Our transplant team is dedicated to saving lives,” said Gaetano Ciancio, professor of surgery and director of the Miami Transplant Institute. “The Institute is honored that our kidney, kidney/pancreas, lung, and heart transplant programs are national leaders.”

The Miami Transplant Institute performs more than 400 lifesaving adult and pediatric transplants every year.

“We are extremely proud that the Miami Transplant Institute ranks among the top U.S. medical centers for total solid organ transplantation,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, senior vice president for medical affairs, dean of the Miller School, and CEO of UHealth. “Gaetano Ciancio is a spectacular leader for this world-class multidisciplinary team.”

“It is gratifying to see so many Miami Transplant Institute practices recognized,” said Carlos A. Migoya, president and CEO of Jackson Health System. “We have already implemented transplant quality measures that will continue improving clinical outcomes across all disciplines.”


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Transplant pioneers celebrate 40 years of life-saving care


Transplant pioneers celebrate 40 years of life-saving care

Third from left, David E.R. Sutherland, a transplant pioneer from the University of Minnesota, presented Grand Rounds at a celebration of 40 years of transplant history with, from left, the Miller School’s Si M. Pham, George W. Burke III, and Alan Livingstone.

At a symposium marking the 40th anniversary of the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital transplant program, Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt reflected on the enormous contribution the Miami Transplant Institute has made to medicine, on the physicians there who spend hour after hour in complex surgeries, and on the patients who, over those decades, have come to see the transplant program as a place of hope.

“It is quite remarkable that this outstanding transplant program is happening in a public hospital, in a safety-net hospital,” Dean Goldschmidt said. “At a time when hospitals across the country are facing tremendous economic challenges, you are able to deliver with tremendous results.”

Then he asked a question that set off long and thunderous applause: “How many of you in the room are patients?”

A few in the audience stood up, then a few others, then many more grateful patients whose presence and smiles served as extraordinary testimony. Their doctors, nurses, and other health care and administrative workers sat alongside and shared in the joy.

“I want to thank our transplant teams,” Dean Goldschmidt continued. “They constitute a special part of medicine; every time they treat one patient they save a life. It’s amazing work.”

Among those standing was Cassandra Smith, 43, of Hollywood, who gets overwhelmed when she speaks about her transplant surgery and care.

“I can’t help but get emotional, because I was sick all my life before I got the transplant at the age of 40,” Smith said. “Now it’s no more insulin, no more feeling sick. I have a new heart, a new kidney, and new pancreas. I am blessed, and my doctors are so good.”

The October 20 event at the Lois Pope LIFE Center began with a special Grand Rounds presented by transplant pioneer David E. R. Sutherland, professor of surgery at the University of Minnesota and director of the Schulze Diabetes Institute, then moved into the symposium that reflected on the transplant program’s four decades of giving people like Smith renewed life.

The evening’s program also included remarks from Jackson Health System President and CEO Eneida Roldan, and featured Alan S. Livingstone, Lucille and DeWitt Daughtry Professor and Chairman of the Department of Surgery and the UM/Jackson’s world-renowned transplant surgeons: George Burke, III, chief of the Division of Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation; and Si Pham, chief of the Division of Heart and Lung Transplantation.

The third division chief, Andreas Tzakis, chief of the Division of Liver and Gastrointestinal Transplant, was unable to attend because he was in surgery. His colleagues praised his dedication to his patients, no matter where or when they need him.

That level of commitment has been a hallmark of the transplant program, which began in 1970 when the first kidney transplant was done at UM. Under the guidance of Burke, Tzakis, and Pham, the transplant divisions have performed more than 500 transplant procedures each year, placing the institute, which is a Center of Excellence at the Miller School, among the elite, high-volume transplant centers in the nation.

In addition to liver, kidney, pancreas, and heart transplants, the institute’s surgeons perform complex intestinal and multi-visceral transplants, making the center one of just a few in the world that undertake such extraordinary procedures.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently recognized the institute’s kidney transplant program with a Silver level award, one of only 10 transplant programs in the country to earn that honor, while the liver and pancreas programs received Bronze level recognition. The HHS’s Donation and Transplantation Community of Practice based the awards on graft survival one year after transplant, transplant rate, and mortality rate after being placed on the transplant list.

At the event, speakers such as attorney Andrea Kessler, the first kidney-pancreas transplant patient, expressed their gratitude.

“I thank all the doctors here for the time they put into research, for the time they put into the hospital, and I thank their families — the long hours they spend working, that’s time they’re probably not with their families,” Kessler said. “I can recall Dr. Burke showing up in my hospital room sometimes at midnight or 1 o’clock in the morning, after he had saved another life.”

“When we do a transplant, these patients become a part of our extended family,” Livingstone said. “As this wonderful symposium made evident, when these patients come to us, they stay with us. So, initially we have patients, but they become friends, they become part of our family. We enter into a contract with them that lasts a lifetime.”

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