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Archive for 2011

ADVANCED EPILEPSY TREATMENT AND SEIZURE-FREEDOM CAN HELP MILLIONS OF PATIENTS IN MENA COUNTRIES

 

 

“The concept of seizure freedom has become the expectation instead of a hopeless dream.” – Deepak Madhavan, M.D.

 

People often ask Dr. Deepak Madhavan, Director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at the Nebraska Medical Center why he became an epileptologist, or what it is that makes him so very passionate about his work. “I think that the answers to these questions are similar. I feel that in doing my job, I can help make people better. Epilepsy is a disease that can be so crippling to a person’s life, leading to loss of driving privileges, missed work and school days, and just overall difficulties with some of the life activities that most people take for granted.”

It is estimated that seizures and epilepsy affect approximately 1% of the world’s population, making it one of the most common neurological disorders.  This means that in the Middle East and North African countries, with a population of about 381 million people, over 3.8 million people could suffer from seizures and epilepsy. With limited number of institutions offering the latest treatment options to their patients in some of these countries, many millions of patients are denied epilepsy treatment and seizure-free lives.

Advances in modern epilepsy treatment, both medical and surgical, have come a long way over the last several years. The concept of seizure-freedom has become the norm rather than a hopeless dream. “It is incredibly rewarding for me to see a person achieve seizure-freedom, and return to school, work or society with newfound confidence and security that their seizures are under control, “says Dr. Madhavan.

The Nebraska Medical Center (TNMC) in Omaha, Nebraska provides advanced treatment for patients and offers specialized training programs for international healthcare professionals to combat this serious ailment. At its Level- 4 epilepsy center, it offers the most advanced medical and surgical treatments and diagnostic measures for epilepsy, for both adults and children. Its well trained and dedicated team offers comprehensive epilepsy care for people with even the toughest seizure disorders. With advanced tools and technology such as Magnetoencephalography (MEG), they are able to noninvasively diagnose and localize many types of epilepsy that eluded treatment in previous eras.

TNMC provides epilepsy therapies to patients that were not available in the region even as recently as two years ago, with a large number of those involving multiple-stage approaches, where intracranial EEG electrodes are placed for the most precise localization and resection of epileptic tissue. They also provide other surgical services, including Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS) implantation, and more traditional epilepsy surgeries such as Temporal Lobectomy.  Availability of implantable brain stimulators and drug delivery devices are on the horizon.

In addition to the advanced medical and surgical treatments for epilepsy, the experts at TNMC specifically focus on the effects of general wellness on seizure control. It may be surprising, but factors like diet, stress management and getting a good night’s sleep can be effective added therapies for the control of seizures.  Dr. Madhavan explains, “Our patients enjoy a comprehensive approach to their epilepsy, where their mood, sleep, and social situation are seen as critical factors in their overall well-being.  In essence, it is not enough for us to stop seizures, but we make it our mission to enhance a patient’s   self-worth in the society”.

“The Nebraska Medical Center treats patients from many countries and has a successful history of being an international resource for cancer-care and transplantation. For international patients with epilepsy, we prioritize the diagnostic and treatment methods to make their visits as effective and comprehensive as possible. We offer personalized care for patients and their families, with on-going accessibility to epilepsy center staff and personnel, as well as full-time Arabic-speaking staff to assist patients around the clock”, says Nizar Mamdani, Executive Director of the International Healthcare at TNMC.

TNMC has affiliations with 121 healthcare facilities in 44 countries and is well known for its personalized healthcare training programs for its international partners. “We offer outstanding customized training programs in epilepsy and seizures; cancer-care and transplantation; pathology and pharmacy and healthcare management programs for international healthcare professionals, so that they may in-turn, offer outstanding treatment options to their patients at their own hospitals. These training programs are offered both at our institution in Nebraska as well as at our international partner’s facilities”, explains Mamdani.  For additional information contact, nmamdani@nebraskamed.com and visit www.unmc.edu/international.

Program helps Saudi Arabian health professionals enhance skills

Program helps Saudi Arabian health professionals enhance skills

by Lisa Spellman, UNMC public relations

December 06, 2011

It’s the genuine kindness in the people she’s met since coming to UNMC and The Nebraska Medical Center (TNMC) in January that impresses Nawar Alabdulqader the most.

“The people here are so nice, helpful and respectful,” said the medical technologist from King Fahd Specialist Hospital in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

picture disc.
From left: Hisham Bukhamseen, training in pharmacy; Mohammed Alomar, Ph.D., assistant cultural attache for academic affairs with the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission; Mai Alshamlan, training in pathology; Nawar Alabdulqader, training in pathology; Dana El-Hajjar, a molecular lab technologist training in pathology; and Farid Awanes Tashjian, senior adviser of medical residency programs for the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission.

From her shortened work hours during the month of August so Nawar could observe Ramadan, to colleagues who guided her step by step from the labs at the Munroe-Meyer Institute to the cafeteria, her colleagues helped her feel at home.

A special partnership

Nawar is one of 29 health care providers from Saudi Arabia who received training through a program developed by Nizar Mamdani, executive director of International Healthcare Services at The Nebraska Medical Center.

She was able to come to Omaha through the International Strategic Partnership training program. The program has helped more than 147 health care professionals learn from medical experts at The Nebraska Medical Center and UNMC faculty.

Since January, Nawar has honed her skills in medical technology and molecular diagnostics. Before she leaves this month, Nawar will take the membership exam for the American Society of Pathology.

Program lauded

The success of the program was recognized at a recent luncheon where Mamdani signed a memorandum of understanding with representatives from the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission, Mohammed A. Alomar, Ph.D., assistant cultural attache for academic affairs, and Farid Awanes Tashjian, senior adviser of medical residency programs.

The approach to customized international health care professional training and education is designed to give international organizations a competitive edge and improve patient outcomes at these institutions.

A new perspective

For Nawar the experience has not only enhanced her medical training, but given her new insight into American culture and Midwestern hospitality.

“Everything I’ve learned, the techniques, teamwork and exceptional quality, I will take back and pass along to others at my hospital,” she said.

New Targeted Lymphoma Treatment Available at The Nebraska Medical Center

First new Hodgkin’s Lymphoma treatment approved by the FDA since 1977

 

It had been more than three decades since the last time the Food and Drug Administration approved a new treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma. That changed in August of 2011 when Brentuximab vedotin, or SGN-35 as it is more commonly know, was approved.

 

For lymphoma patient Justin Dorn, the progress came just in time.

 

“I didn’t have a lot of options left for treatment,” said Dorn, 37 of Kearney, Neb.
    
Diagnosed with lymphoma in 2009, Dorn had already undergone a stem cell transplant at The Nebraska Medical Center. It’s a treatment that works for the vast majority of Hodgkin lymphoma patients. For Dorn, it did not.
    
The medical center was able to treat Dorn with SGN-35 in the spring as part of a clinical trial of the new drug.
    
“I don’t think I would have made it this far without the drug,” Dorn said.
    
“The types of patients who receive this basically have few other options,” said Julie Vose, MD, MBA, oncologist at The Nebraska Medical Center and chair of hematology/oncology at The University of Nebraska Medical Center.  “So this gives them other options to look potentially to other treatments in the future.”
    
The treatment is a monoclonal antibody with chemotherapy attached to it. It works by delivering the chemotherapy directly to the cancer cells and bypasses the normal, healthy cells. The targeted “smart bullet” approach lessens the side effects of the chemotherapy.  SGN-35 treatments are given intravenously once every three weeks.
    
“Unfortunately, it’s not a cure,” Dr. Vose said. “It’s a way to shrink the tumors and get the patient feeling better and lessen their symptoms.”
    
As one of the hospitals participating in the clinical trials for SGN-35, Nebraska Medical Center oncologists saw the promising results first hand: 73% of the patients had their tumors shrink or disappear.
    
“A response as high as 73% for a group of patients like that is nearly revolutionary,” said R. Gregory Bociek, MD, Justin Dorn’s oncologist at the medical center.
    
The idea of a “smart bullet” for cancer is being seen in other areas of cancer research and treatment.
    
“That’s really the theme right now,” Dr. Vose said. “We’re trying to attack just the tumor, not the normal tissue so we can reduce the side effects and have better anti-cancer effectiveness.”

 

Transplant Surgeons At The Nebraska Medical Center Use Revolutionary Technique In Performing Living Liver Transplants

Doctors say the procedure greatly increases safety, especially for the donor

 

For nearly two decades, Russ Hart knew his liver was failing. Doctors told him it was only a matter of time before the degenerative liver disease he had would precipitate the need for a transplant. “Fortunately, I made it much beyond the ten years they were predicting,” said the Manhattan, Kan. native. “I made it 18 years before I needed a transplant. And for most of those 18 years, I was very healthy.”

 

But the good health Hart enjoyed quickly came to an end. “I started to get quite jaundiced and yellow,” said Hart. “I was very tired and obviously was going downhill. I could hardly stand up at times. I just didn’t have the strength to do that.”

 

Hart got on the waiting list for a transplant. His wife, meanwhile, started spreading the word about the possibility of a living donor. “I wasn’t really interested in doing that because I didn’t want to put somebody else in harm’s way,” said Hart. “But the sicker I got, I realized that might be an opportunity for me to live.”    

 

Hart says a lot of people didn’t realize the liver is one of the few organs that has the unique ability to regenerate, so they didn’t know living donation was even an option. “The biggest question we always got was, ‘Can they do that? I didn’t know they could do that.’ So I explained at The Nebraska Medical Center they had a unique procedure where they took a quarter of the donor’s liver which made it much safer for the donors.”

 

Hart said it was this new procedure that prompted him to accept a donation from a member of his church that would eventually save his life. “There has always been something inside of me that’s pushed me to do something self-sacrificing in a big way,” said eventual donor Josh Nelson. “I trusted Russ that this was one of the best places in the world to get a transplant.”

 

There was another realization that prompted Hart to accept Nelson’s offer. “I realized if I accepted this gift from Josh, the liver I would’ve possibly gotten (from a cadaver) could go to someone else,” said Hart. “Another life would be saved in addition to mine, so really we got two great benefits out of the one gift Josh gave.”

 

“The need for living donation has arisen because of a shortage of cadaveric organs,” said Nebraska Medical Center liver transplant surgeon Jean Botha, MD. “About ten percent of our liver transplant patients will die every year because of a shortage of organs.”

 

Dr. Botha says this is where living donation attempts to fill the gap. “Historically speaking we’ve tended to take the larger portion of a donor’s liver, or their right side, for a living liver transplant. That takes between 60 to 65 percent of the donor’s liver mass to be able to provide enough functioning liver mass for the recipient.” But Dr. Botha says that method always placed much of the risk on the donor. “While that risk is low, it is still real.”

 

It was that risk, Dr. Botha said, that prompted transplant surgeons here to change their approach and change the way the operation was done. “We can now take a smaller piece from the donor,” said Dr. Botha. “That makes the operation safer for them, while still providing the recipient with the opportunity to get transplanted and to survive. So we are now taking the left lobe from the donor to be able to make it work in the recipient.”

 

“To be a leader in this field is very exciting,” said transplant surgeon Wendy Grant, MD. “If we can lead the way in donor safety, we think that’s a benefit to our patients and to the transplant community.”

 

When the time came for the transplant, Hart said he wasn’t fearful at all. “I knew I was in the best hands I could be in,” said Hart. “When I woke up, my wife immediately said my eyes were whiter. And that was the first time I knew things were going to work out.”

 

“I feel better than I have in years,” said Hart. “I wake up every morning and can see my wife and kids. I’m more thankful than I’ve ever been. I think about things in a different way.”

“The biggest thing I received,” said Nelson, “was the satisfaction of knowing that I did something to save someone’s life. If you didn’t take the chance, nothing happens. Nothing changes. But you’re taking that chance that you can change everything.”

 

“You’re basically dead, then you get a new life almost overnight,” said Hart. “It just takes your breath away.”

 

J.D. Power and Associates Recognize The Nebraska Medical Center for Providing an Outstanding Inpatient Experience For a Sixth Consecutive Year

The Nebraska Medical Center has been recognized for service excellence for a sixth consecutive year under the J.D. Power and Associates Distinguished Hospital Program.SM This distinction acknowledges a strong commitment by the hospital to provide “An Outstanding Inpatient Experience.”

 

 

“In earning this distinction, The Nebraska Medical Center has truly demonstrated its commitment to service excellence,” said John Clark, director of provider programs at J.D. Power and Associates.

 

“The Nebraska Medical Center has created a highly patient-focused culture that stresses the importance of meeting patient needs at every touch point. The achievement of this award speaks volumes about the facility’s leadership, nurses, doctors and employees.”
 
The service excellence distinction was determined by surveying recently discharged patients about their perceptions of their hospital visit and comparing the results to the national benchmarks established in the annual J.D. Power and Associates National Hospital Service Performance Study.SM

 

The telephone-based research conducted among The Nebraska Medical Center patients focuses on the five key drivers of patient satisfaction with their overall inpatient experience. These drivers, which were identified in the national study, are: speed and efficiency; dignity and respect; comfort; information and communication; and emotional support.

 

The Nebraska Medical Center exceeds the national benchmark study score for inpatient satisfaction. The hospital performs well, compared with the national study, in providing patients with dignity and respect. The Nebraska Medical Center receives particularly high ratings for the courtesy of the doctors and nurses. The hospital also performs well in providing patients with emotional support, receiving notably high ratings for confidence and trust in the doctor’s skill level and the treatment of family and friends.

 

Seventy-six percent of The Nebraska Medical Center inpatients surveyed say they “definitely will” return to the facility if needed, and 75 percent say they would recommend the facility to family and friends.

 

“To be recognized as a hospital of distinction for the sixth straight year is a great reflection on the care our physicians and staff strive to provide each day,” said Glenn Fosdick, FACHE, president and CEO of The Nebraska Medical Center.  “Knowing that this recognition comes from feedback from our patients is also very significant.”

 

Nongovernmental, acute-care hospitals throughout the nation are eligible for the J.D. Power and Associates Distinguished Hospital recognition for inpatient, maternity, cardiovascular, emergency and outpatient services. Distinction is valid for one year, after which time the hospital may reapply for this recognition.

 

About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company providing forecasting, performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and solutions. The company’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

 

About The Nebraska Medical Center
With a reputation for excellence, innovation and extraordinary patient care, The Nebraska Medical Center has earned J.D. Power and Associates’ Hospital of Distinction award for inpatient services for six consecutive years. It also received the 2010 Consumer Choice Award, a mark of patient satisfaction as selected by healthcare consumers and has achieved Magnet recognition status for nursing excellence, Thomson Reuters 100 Top Hospitals Performance Improvement Leader recognition, as well as the Award of Progress from the state of Nebraska’s Edgerton Quality Awards Program.  As the teaching hospital for the University of Nebraska Medical Center, this 624 licensed bed academic medical center has an international reputation for providing solid organ and bone marrow transplantation services and is well known nationally and regionally for its oncology, neurology and cardiology programs.

 

About The McGraw-Hill Companies
Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies is a leading global financial information and education company that helps professionals and students succeed in the Knowledge Economy. With leading brands including Standard & Poor’s, McGraw-Hill Education, Platts energy information services and J.D. Power and Associates, the Corporation has approximately 21,000 employees with more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2010 were $6.2 billion. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com.

 

No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates.

Nebraska Medical Center responds to International Hospital Needs for Customized Healthcare Training Programs with a comprehensive agreement with the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission

OMAHA, NE—September 23, 2011

In its ongoing strategies to develop customized training and educational programs and to build closer collaborative programs with its 119 partners in 44 countries, The Nebraska Medical Center (TNMC) completed a series of customized training and educational programs for 29 healthcare providers of the King Fahd Specialist Hospital in Dammam (KFSHD), Saudi Arabia, which were sponsored by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM).  
 

At the signing ceremony: Don Leuenberger, University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Vice Chancellor; Mohammed A. Alomar, Ph.D., Assistant Cultural Attaché for Academic Affairs of SAC;  Nizar Mamdani, executive director of International Healthcare Services of TNMC; Mayor of Omaha Hon. Jim Suttle;  Farid Awanes Tashjian, Senior Advisor, Medical Residency Programs of SACM; Hon. Richard Baier, Director of Nebraska Department of Economic Development


To further expand the model of KFSHD’s successful programs for the Saudi healthcare professionals at TNMC, Mohammed A. Alomar, Ph.D., Assistant Cultural Attaché for Academic Affairs of SACM, Farid Awanes Tashjian, Senior Advisor, Medical Residency Programs of SACM and Nizar Mamdani, executive director of International Healthcare Services of TNMC, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate bringing more Saudi Arabian students and healthcare professionals to TNMC and its affiliated Mid-Western institutions.

 

The ceremony was attended by the Mayor of Omaha, Hon. Jim Suttle; the Nebraska Director of Economic Development, Hon. Richard Baier; University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Vice Chancellor, Don Leuenberger; David Muirhead, Director of Anatomical Pathology; many department chairs and senior members of the medical center.

 

“Today, there are more than 60,000 SACM-sponsored Saudi students and their families in the United States under various educational and training programs. We are very much looking forward to expanding our close collaboration with the Nebraska Medical Center. The success of the program between KFSHD and TNMC can be a model for many Saudi Arabian healthcare facilities and students that are seeking global customized healthcare training programs and educational opportunities in the US.  Special thanks go to Mr. Nizar Mamdani and his team for planning and organizing this program, said Hon. Dr. Mohammed Alomar. 

 
“Traditional thinking in healthcare training has been focused solely on what areas of concentration study are available at the host institutions. In adopting a new process for training healthcare professionals, most institutions deduce that what is being practiced at their home institution will suit the needs and objectives of the guest healthcare trainees and their organizations. This training process has huge limitations and rarely serves as a comprehensive healthcare training solution,” says Nizar Mamdani, executive director of International Healthcare Services at TNMC.

 

“Hospitals throughout the globe no longer seek canned training programs, which provide limited benefits towards fulfilling the total needs of their institutions. Host healthcare institutions planning to sustain or excel in providing comprehensive training and education with maximum impact, need to develop customized training programs. We have successfully adapted this paradigm at TNMC.
“I’m extremely privileged and excited in embarking on this next phase of our expanded programs for the Saudi students and healthcare professionals with SACM and other medical institutions in the Middle East,” says Mr. Mamdani.

 

TNMC’s unique approach to international healthcare professional training and education is designed to give international organizations a true competitive edge, while improving patient outcomes at their institutions.  Using teamwork, teambuilding, and a personalized approach, TNMC trains medical personnel to evolve and grow. By implementing the strategies of customizing healthcare training programs, hospitals can not only ensure improved patient outcomes, but can also achieve greater opportunities for their healthcare participants, a more cooperative climate of inclusion among hospital management and workers, and a greater success overall.
Hon. Mayor of Omaha as well the Hon. Director of Nebraska Economic Development stated that Omaha and Nebraska are much richer because of the great work done by the medical center and welcome the opportunity of hosting the Saudi and other international healthcare professionals and students to Nebraska. These professionals add to the foundation of an international community in Omaha, while accelerating the state’s multi-ethnic and multi-cultural dynamics. They congratulated SACM and TNMC for their mutual cooperation and for signing of the MOU.

 

For more information on TNMC’s international programs, call: Nizar Mamdani, Executive Director:        1-402-559-3656 or visit its website at: http://www.unmc.edu/international

U.S. News Ranks THE NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER In More Specialties Than Any Other Metro Hospital

22nd annual rankings recognize hospitals in 94 metro areas and 16 specialties
The Nebraska Medical Center has been ranked in nine specialties, more than any other hospital in the area, in U.S. News Media & World Report’s 2011-12 Best Hospitals rankings. The specialties that qualify as “high performing” according to the publication include cancer, ear, nose and throat, gastroenterology, geriatrics, nephrology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, pulmonology and urology.

 

“This recognition reflects the continued commitment of our entire staff to provide extraordinary care to patients dealing with a wide variety of medical challenges; from routine illnesses to the most serious types of cancer or neurological conditions,” said Glenn Fosdick, FACHE, president and CEO of The Nebraska Medical Center.

 

Nebraska Orthopaedic Hospital, a sister institution of The Nebraska Medical Center, also had a very strong showing in the report, ranking as the 38th best hospital in the country for orthopaedics. It’s the second straight year that NOH has been nationally ranked.

 

The rankings have been published annually by U.S. News for the past 22 years. They will also be featured in the U.S. News Best Hospitals guidebook, which will go on sale August 30. The latest rankings showcase 720 hospitals out of about 5,000 hospitals nationwide. Each is ranked among the country’s top hospitals in at least one medical specialty and/or ranked among the best hospitals in its metro area.

 

The core mission of Best Hospitals is to help guide patients who need an especially high level of care because of a difficult surgery, a challenging condition, or added risk because of other health problems or age. “These are referral centers where other hospitals send their sickest patients,” said Avery Comarow, U.S. News Health Rankings Editor. “Hospitals like these are ones you or those close to you should consider when the stakes are high.”

 

Hard numbers stand behind the rankings in most specialties—death rates, patient safety, procedure volume, and other objective data. Responses to a national survey, in which physicians were asked to name hospitals they consider best in their specialty for the toughest cases, also were factored in.

 

The rankings cover 16 medical specialties and all 94 metro areas that have at least 500,000 residents and at least one hospital that performed well enough to be ranked.

Treatment for Migraine Headaches Comes with Positive Side Effect

Neurologists at The Nebraska Medical Center Use Botox to Treat Chronic Migraines

 

The headaches bothered Tina Bracha for years. The medication helped, but it was not until she started working in the front office of Neurology Consultants of Nebraska that she found out there was another treatment: Botox injections.

 

“At first I thought, ‘there’s no way this works,’” Bracha recalled. “But it’s been a life-changing thing for me. I don’t have headaches every day anymore. I can go outside on these sunny days; I couldn’t do that before.”

 
Dr. Santamaria gives Tina Bracha her Quarterly Botox injection Nebraska Medical Center neurologist Pam Santamaria, MD gives Bracha Botox injections once every three months. Each treatment involves 33 shots given in the forehead, temples and back of the neck.

 

“I’ve seen it in the clinic and the research bears it out; about 50% of people who don’t get significant benefit from the oral medicine will get some benefit from Botox,” said Dr. Santamaria. “It either takes the symptoms away completely, or there’s some reduction in symptoms.”

 

Botox was approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a migraine treatment in October of 2010. Since then, the number of people seeking the treatment has steadily increased in Dr. Santamaria’s clinic.

 

“Many patients don’t realize that Botox is a treatment for migraines,” she said. “Most people associate it with cosmetic procedures.”

 

Botox gained popularity as a cosmetic treatment in when it was approved in 2002. That same cosmetic benefit is a side effect of using Botox to treat migraines.

 

“My kids and husband joke with me,” Bracha said. “I have no forehead wrinkles. It’s an added benefit, but not having migraines outweighs that.  I’d take the wrinkles over the headaches any day.”

 

Because of the Botox treatments, Bracha has neither.

 

Dr. Santamaria believes migraines are under-treated in the U.S. An estimated 12% of the population deals with migraines and she believes many of those people are simply unaware that treatments exist.

 

“Migraines are more common than diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease,” Dr. Santamaria said.

 

“Migraines are more common in women than men, and occur more in the United States than in other countries.”

 

Not all bad headaches are migraines, Dr. Santamaria said. There is a specific definition that accompanies a migraine diagnosis.

 

“A migraine is unilateral, meaning it’s on one side of the head,” she explained. “It’s a throbbing, pounding pain that often causes people to have nausea, motion sickness and sensitivity to light.”

 

Those were all symptoms Bracha experienced regularly before her regular Botox treatments.

 

“When the headaches were really bad I’d miss doing things with my kids,” she said. “I had a very hard time just getting out of the house.”

 

Botox works by blocking communication between nerves and muscles, which keeps muscles from contracting. When it is injected in a patient’s head, it blocks pain receptors the same way it keeps muscles and nerves from communicating.

 

Doctors initially discovered the Botox effect on migraines while using it to treat a condition called cervical dystonia. Many who suffer from that condition also struggle with migraines. Patients taking Botox began noticing an improvement of their head ache symptoms. Several years of study followed before the FDA approval came.

 

“There is really no reason why, if a person is having chronic migraines, not to try Botox as a treatment,” said Dr. Santamaria. “It may really help.”

Record Number of Transplant Patients and Families Gather to “Celebrate Life”

The Nebraska Medical Center’s annual transplant reunion
draws more than 900

 

Laurie Chiasson again headed for Omaha from her home in Louisiana. This time, it was for a much different reason than when she first came here seven years ago. The 2011 trip was for The Nebraska Medical Center’s annual transplant reunion. Seven years ago, the trip to Omaha was because her son needed a liver transplant.

 

“He was 110 days old when he got his transplant,” she said.

 

Baby Anthony’s donor was his father, Mark who stayed home in Louisiana for this year’s reunion. Laurie says Anthony and Mark look almost exactly alike – right down to the scars from the transplant surgery.

 

No longer a baby, Anthony is getting ready to start second grade.

 

“You would never know he had a transplant,” Chiasson said of her son. “It’s never held him back. When people ask him about the scar, he just says, ‘When I was a baby, I had a liver transplant. No big deal.’”

 

The reunion is a big deal for kids like Anthony and their parents. For the children who’ve been through the life-saving surgeries, it’s a chance to meet others who share their unique experiences. For the parents, it’s a similar connection.

 

“We have a level of worry that others probably don’t have,” Chiasson said of her fellow transplant parents. “Those other parents get it. We give each other support.”

 

Support is an important part of the transplant program at the medical center. That support comes full circle at the reunion.

 

“For the transplant team, the physicians, nurses and coordinators, the reunion is a celebration,” said Alan Langnas, D.O., chief of transplantation at The Nebraska Medical Center. “We have seen these patients through the most challenging times in their lives and at the reunion, we see them growing up, graduating from school, having children or grandchildren.”

 

The 2011 transplant reunion drew 279 patients, and more than 900 patients, family members and volunteers; more than any year before. Children at the transplant reunion enjoyed special activities including games and arts and crafts. Adults will be able to attend educational sessions geared specifically toward their post-transplant needs. The day will wrap up with group pictures featuring each transplant “class” as classified by type of transplant/organ.

 

The medical center’s kidney transplant program began in 1970; its liver transplant program in 1985 and the intestinal transplant program in 1990.

 

In the years since, 4,821 kidney, liver, pancreas, heart and intestinal transplants have been performed at the medical center.

 

Again this year, the transplant reunion featured a special educational and social session called “Teens in Transplant.” Many of the young patients in this group received life-saving transplants as infants or toddlers and have grown up knowing the unique challenges of being a transplant patient.

 

Eighteen year old Jenna Mihalevich received a small bowel transplant as a baby. The transplant reunions have become an anticipated part of summer for many years.

 

“It was a wonderful event,” she said. “I hadn’t been to one for two or three years. There’s no one here really around this area that has had a transplant like mine, so it’s great to get together with people who understand what it’s like and to meet new friends.”

 

The Teens in Transplant portion of the reunion is important socially, but there are also important medical reasons to keep adolescent patients involved with their own health care.

 

“Teenagers have incredibly busy school and social activities and peer influence is also huge,” said Wendy Grant, MD, transplant surgeon at The Nebraska Medical Center. “Plus, it is a time for experimentations with drugs and alcohol which may damage a transplanted organ. Non-compliance with a medical plan can lead to chronic organ rejection, loss of organ function, the need for re-transplantation and even death.”

 

Experts say educational and support programs such as the transplant reunion are important and effective ways to keep teens engaged and informed in their own care.

 

Plans are already moving forward for the 2012 transplant reunion.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery at The Nebraska Medical Center Gives Patients New Options

AxiaLIF surgery can mean fewer complications, less time in the hospital

It did not feel like spring when Bob Harty hit the golf course. Forty degrees and spitting rain was hardly ideal golf weather. But nothing would keep Harty from making this tee time.

 

“That shot was three years in the making,” Harty said after teeing off. “A lot of anticipation.”

 

A bulging disc in his back had kept him away from his favorite hobby for three years.

 

A slipped disc is a fairly common cause of back and leg pain. It struck Harty in the mid 1990s. He had two surgeries to repair the problem and things were looking up; for a while. The relief did not last.

 

“The surgeons back then told me, ‘You’re 39 years old. We don’t really want to fuse the spine now if we can wait. Let’s see if technology catches up to your problem,’” Harty recalled. “For about eight years, I was OK.”

 

When his pain returned, Harty was miserable; unable to do basic chores around the house, unable to play golf; unable to tolerate the four hour car ride to South Dakota to visit his mother.

 

That’s when he realized technology had caught up with his back problem.”

 

I went to my doctor to get a referral to see a surgeon,” Harty said.  “He sent me to see Dr. Lennarson.”

 

Peter Lennarson, MD, neurosurgeon at The Nebraska Medical Center and director of the hospital’s spine center met with Harty and explained a minimally invasive surgical approach called AxiaLIF.

 

“The traditional surgical approach to removing the disc and fusing the spine involves accessing the spine from the front, through an incision in the abdomen,” explained Dr. Lennarson. “If more work is required on the patient from the back, they are moved to a different operating table, laid on their stomach and another incision is made in the back.”

 

With the AxiaLIF approach, Dr. Lennarson is able to make on small incision near the patient’s tailbone.

 

“Through that small incision we are able to create a channel into the spine to get access to that disc,” Dr. Lennarson said. “We use a tool to remove the disc and then through a very small tube, put in a bone graft to replace the disc.

 

We then use a threaded rod to fix the bones together.”

 

The surgery was an absolute success,” Harty said with a smile. “I think I knew it the minute I woke up. I was only in the hospital a couple days.  I was up walking the afternoon of the surgery.”

 

The AxiaLIF surgery takes less time to perform than a traditional open surgery. Its minimally invasive approach typically results in fewer complications after surgery. Even with these advantages, Dr. Lennarson cautions, it is not a procedure for everyone.

 

“We have to consider things like a patient’s anatomy; everyone is different,” Dr. Lennarson said. “It has to be planned very carefully to make sure it is a safe and effective treatment.”

 

Months after the completion of his AxiaLIF surgery, and years after his back pain began, Bob Harty is again looking forward to the arrival of spring.

 

“On my last appointment with Dr. Lennarson, I brought up golf,” Harty said. “He said, ‘I’m not going to say no, but with the twisting involved, you should wait 9-12 months.”

 

Harty decided to wait the full 12 months to get back to one of his favorite pastimes. One year to the day after his surgery, Bob Harty picked up his golf clubs and headed out to welcome the arrival of spring, and what he felt like is his second life.
“It sure feels good. I had given up the thought of playing again,” Harty said.

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