Jan 032014
 
kidneys dec. 2013

Dr. Robert Harland of the Brody School of Medicine, center, poses with participants in the kidney donor exchange, left to right, Sherrie Hoopes of Jacksonville, Leslie Smith of Bevinsville, Ky., Jamaal Peele and his mother, Brenda Peele, both of Greenville, during a press event Dec. 30 at Vidant Medical Center. Photo by Jeannine Manning Hutson

The new year often brings resolutions for better health. Losing weight or eating healthy foods may be No. 1 on many lists, but organ donation can be another way to make a difference.

A four-person kidney transplant in Greenville has given two people hope in the new year and two more the satisfaction of knowing they helped save a life.

Physicians from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and a local private practice participated in the transplants, which took place Dec. 16 at Vidant Medical Center.

Dr. Robert Harland, professor and chief of surgical immunology and transplantation at ECU and chief of transplant surgery at VMC, said the procedures were successful and allowed two of the hospital’s wait list patients to receive living donor kidneys instead of potentially waiting years for a kidney from a deceased donor.

Jamal Peele of Greenville and Leslie Smith of Bevinsville, Ky., each had planned to donate one of their healthy kidneys to relatives, but were not good matches. They were good matches, however, for each other’s relatives.

Thus, Peele donated to Smith’s aunt, Sherrie Hoopes of Jacksonville. Smith donated to Peele’s mother, Brenda Peele of Greenville.

The donors met the recipients for the first time Dec. 30 and all are doing well. Both donors underwent their procedures laparoscopically, which requires smaller incisions and often results in a quicker recovery and shorter hospital stay. The recipients are off dialysis and have normal kidney function.

The kidney exchange was the second performed by the transplant program at ECU and VMC, following a six-person exchange in 2011. Harland estimates that about 500 paired exchange kidney transplants were performed in the United States in 2013, representing fewer than 10 percent of the approximately 6,000 living donor kidney transplants performed. However, this transplant option has seen rapid growth over the past five years. The first paired kidney exchanges were performed in the United States in 2000.

In addition to maintaining an internal paired exchange list, patients listed at VMC have the option of being listed for a nationwide exchange list.

More than 434 eastern North Carolinians are awaiting a kidney transplant at VMC, according to according to Jennifer Thompson, transplant coordinator with Vidant Health. In 2013, doctors performed 94 kidney transplants, up from 88 in 2012.

The typical length of time between joining the Vidant/ECU waiting list and receiving a transplant is between 36 and 60 months, Thompson said.

Thompson estimated more than 3,000 people are on dialysis in the 29-county area served by Vidant Health.

Clearly there is a need for more organ donors. Several observances related to organ donation kick off next month. Feb. 14 is National Donor Day, March is National Kidney Month and March 14 is World Kidney Day. April is Donate Life Month. Click the links to learn more.

In addition to Harland, the following experts were involved in the kidney transplant last month:

–Dr. Claire Morgan (ECU Physicians)

–Dr. Carl Haisch (ECU Physicians)

–Dr. Reginald Obi (ECU Physicians)

–Dr. Heather Jones (Eastern Nephrology Associates)

–Dr. Kristel McLawhorn (Eastern Nephrology Associates)

–Dr. Scott Kendrick (Eastern Nephrology Associates)

–Dr. Lorita Rebellato (ECU associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine director of histocompatibility lab)

For more information about kidney transplants at ECU and VMC, call 252-744-2620.

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Dec 182013
 

Forty-nine physicians from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University have been chosen by their peers for inclusion in the 2014 “Best Doctors in America” list.

The annual list is compiled by Best Doctors Inc., a Boston-based group that surveys more than 45,000 physicians across the United States who previously have been included in the listing asking whom they would choose to treat themselves or their families.

Approximately 5 percent of the physicians who practice in the United States make the annual list. A partial list of the state’s best doctors is in the December issue of “Business North Carolina” magazine. The full list is online at http://www.businessnc.com/special-reports-publications/special-report/north-carolina-s-best-doctors/?back=special.

The ECU physicians on the list are Dr. William A. Burke, dermatology; Drs. Jon Firnhaber, Susan Keen, Greg W. Knapp, Lars C. Larsen, Tae Joon Lee, Gary I. Levine, Kenneth Steinweg and Ricky Watson, family medicine; Drs. Paul P. Cook and Keith M. Ramsey, infectious diseases; Dr. Nathan Brinn, pediatrics and internal medicine; Drs. Mary Jane Barchman and Paul Bolin, nephrology; Drs. Raymond Dombroski and Edward R. Newton, obstetrics and gynecology; Drs. David Hannon and Charlie J. Sang Jr., pediatric cardiology; Dr. Glenn Harris, pediatric diabetologist; and Dr. William E. Novotny and Ronald M. Perkin, pediatric critical care; Dr. Susan Boutilier, pediatric neurology and sleep medicine; and Dr. John Gibbs, neurology.

Also listed are Dr. Michael Reichel, pediatric developmental and behavioral problems; Dr. David N. Collier, pediatric obesity; Dr. Daniel P. Moore, physical medicine and rehabilitation; Dr. Elaine Cabinum-Foeller, pediatric abuse; Dr. Diana J. Antonacci, John Diamond and Kaye L. McGinty, child and adolescent psychiatry; Dr. Scott S. MacGilvray, neonatal medicine; Drs. Lorraine Basnight, Karin Marie Hillenbrand, Thomas G. Irons, Suzanne Lazorick, Dale A. Newton, John Olsson, Kathleen V. Previll and Charles Willson, general pediatrics; Drs. Robert A. Shaw, Yash Kataria and Mark Bowling, pulmonary medicine; Drs. Robert Harland and Eric Toschlog, surgery; Dr. Emmanuel Zervos, surgical oncology; Dr. Danielle Walsh, pediatric surgery; Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood Jr., cardiothoracic surgery; Dr. Eleanor Harris, radiation oncology; and Dr. Charles S. Powell, vascular surgery.

Dec 032013
 

Three people have died in North Carolina after testing positive for the flu, the first of the season in our state. Even though it’s December, there’s still time to take steps to prevent the illness before it arrives. The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year.

Flu season can last as late as May so getting vaccinated now could still be beneficial. About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against the influenza viruses in the vaccine develop in the body.

Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, employers and even in some schools.

While public health officials say the number of flu cases has been low so far, individuals most at-risk are children under age 2, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions such as asthma or immune system problems.

Good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. There also are flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat and prevent the flu. A new study reported in The Lancet confirms the benefits of starting flu antivirals even beyond two days after illness starts.

In addition to getting the flu shot, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer six good health habits to follow:

1. Avoid close contact. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

2. Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.

3. Cover your mouth and nose. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

4. Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

6. Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

If you haven’t done it, now’s the time to get your flu shot. Once vaccinated, you can enjoy this holiday season knowing that you have taken the single best step to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu.

National Influenza Vaccination Week is Dec. 8-14. For more information, visit: www.cdc.gov.

Nov 142013
 

Sometimes, the simple stuff works best.

This is true when it comes to the valuable practice of churches, nonprofits and community groups hosting health screenings. The advice? Keep it simple. Stick to the straightforward medical tests that change behaviors, and avoid more complicated screenings that lead to additional invasive procedures.

It’s common practice for churches and other community groups to host health screenings. These events help raise awareness for common health issues and often provide basic screenings at little to no cost. This type of community action is built around the promotion of good health habits. But, as recent news stories have covered, some advanced screenings should be left to doctors.

In some cases, tests are offered by for-profit companies and come with an advertising pitch for additional services. Doctors warn patients and community groups to always consider the source with these sorts of tests. In fact, the American Academy of Family Physicians maintains a list of tests to avoid. One potential problem is test  results showing things that – though abnormal – are completely benign. When an incorrect diagnosis is delivered, patients are then subjected to more invasive tests that can be more harmful. It takes the eye of a trained physician to tell the difference.

Dr. Jason Foltz, clinic director of family medicine at ECU, says people at community events should seek tests that focus on improved outcomes – tests such as blood pressure, Body Mass Index, glucose and cholesterol screenings. Proponents of these community screening events say that while doctors can preach to patients about the need to exercise or quit smoking, it sometimes takes the reality check of a positive test result to motivate a person to make a change.

These tests can also serve as guideposts for patients working on managing an existing condition. Just last week, the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU hosted the 12th annual Winning with Diabetes conference. At this event, guests received blood pressure, vascular and kidney screenings.

In most cases, tests such as these are only the first steps in establishing a plan for better health, Foltz says. If anything alarming comes up during one of these simple screenings, you should visit your doctor so he or she can get you started on a program to correct the issue.

Follow ECU Health Sciences on Twitter to learn about future health screenings.

Nov 122013
 

In 1972, farmland covered the Pitt County countryside where the ECU health sciences campus is today.

It’s hard to imaclass1972_5x7gine the changes that have been made since the first medical school students entered ECU that same year.

Those 20 students knew they had to succeed their first year in Greenville, after which they would transfer to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It was the first step toward ECU having its own medical school.

The program helped fulfill the vision of Dr. Leo Jenkins, president of what was then East Carolina College, to build a medical school on campus. The first class was honored Nov. 8-9 by the ECU Medical and Health Sciences Foundation during ECU’s homecoming.

In 1965, a year after Jenkins began his campaign for a medical school, the North Carolina General Assembly authorized East Carolina to establish a school and provided planning funds for its development.

The first ECU medical faculty members started work in 1970, under the leadership of Dr. Wallace Wooles, a pharmacologist and the first dean. The following year, the General Assembly appropriated operating funds to allow enrollment in the one-year program.

In 1972, those first 20 students arrived, followed by two more classes of 20 each, all North Carolinians, in 1973 and 1974.

The thinking in Greenville, Raleigh and at the UNC General Administration offices in Chapel Hill was that ECU would grow to a two-year program, with expansion to a full four-year program later.

But in late 1974, plans changed. The next year, upon recommendation of the UNC Board of Governors, the General Assembly appropriated $43 million for initial construction of facilities and implementation of a four-year medical school at ECU. The charter class of 28 students enrolled in 1977. The school received full accreditation in February 1981, and the first class graduated that spring.

Today, the Brody School of Medicine at ECU enrolls 80 students with each class.

And the farmland has been replaced by a bustling health sciences campus made up of the Brody School of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Allied Health Sciences, the School of Dental Medicine, the Laupus Health Sciences Library, the East Carolina Heart Institute, ECU Family Medicine and many other clinics taking care of patients.

“It is just fascinating to be here at a time when the school has clearly come into its own, and the earliest graduates are displaying all of the high qualities of the profession, in leadership and service, that were imagined so many years ago,” said Dr. Paul Cunningham, dean of the medical school.

1

Dr. Evelyn McNeill, left, an original ECU medical faculty member, talks with Dr. James Parsons, a member of the first one-year medical class, during a gathering Nov. 8 at the Brody Medical Sciences Building. (Photo by Doug Boyd)