Archive for 2012

Breast Cancer Patients’ New Options For Faster Recovery Intrabeam provides one-time treatment instead of 12-week course

Marcia Shanahan’s regular mammogram didn’t show anything. But during a routine check-up, her doctor felt something.

“I really believed at the time it was going to be nothing,” Shanahan says. “But after the biopsy when they said the word ‘cancer,’ it got scary.”

Shanahan felt like she needed a second opinion. On the advice of a friend, she contacted James Edney, MD, a surgical oncologist at The Nebraska Medical Center.

“Women may have two surgical options when they have breast cancer,” Dr. Edney explains. “Mastectomy is one; and breast conservation, where we remove the lump and leave the breast behind is the other.”

Dr. Edney says lumpectomy is followed with a course of daily radiation that typically lasts six weeks.

“This can create a real problem for people depending on their schedule,” Dr. Edney says. “There are geographical barriers, especially when you’re in a place like Nebraska where a patient may have to drive 250 miles a day for treatment.”

He says of all women who get breast cancer, about 75-percent of them are candidates for breast conservation. However, he says only 35-40-percent of that group follows through with conservation because of the logistical barriers and time commitment. When Shanahan met with Dr. Edney to discuss her options, he explained to her a new procedure called Intrabeam, a type of interoperative radiation therapy (IORT). Instead of six weeks of treatment following surgery, Intrabeam patients have their surgery and radiation in one session lasting about 90 minutes.

“It sounded really good,” Shanahan remembers. “I said, ‘Sign me up.’”

After the surgeon removes the tumor, a special bulb-shaped applicator is inserted into the cavity where the tumor was before. The applicator is attached to a portable radiation machine through which a radiologist applies a low-dose of radiation to the affected area and its surrounding margins. The entire process typically takes between one and two hours. Dr. Edney describes it as a team effort between surgical oncologists and radiation oncologists. He also believes this approach will become much more common in the years to come.

“I think that it is our responsibility as an NCI-designated cancer center to provide those kinds of options that may not be available anywhere else.”

The Nebraska Medical Center and UNMC have played an important role in the development of Intrabeam therapy for breast cancer. Their involvement began early during clinical trials when the medical center was one of just four centers in the United States participating. With solid clinical data showing this approach to be effective, it’s now becoming more widely available, though still only available in this region here at the medical center.

“What we found with over five years of follow up, is that the results are equivalent to traditional treatment,” Dr. Edney says. “The cosmetic results were far superior with Intrabeam because we are not irradiating the entire breast and overlying skin.”

Women who undergo whole-breast radiation often deal with red, irritated skin and changes in breast density. Since Intrabeam patients only receive radiation in a small area inside the breast, those side effects are greatly reduced.

Six weeks after her Intrabeam procedure, Marcia Shanahan is back at work. She is undergoing chemotherapy to reduce the chances that the cancer will come back. As she looks back at all she’s been through in the last several months, she is very happy she asked about a second opinion.

“I wouldn’t have known if I had stayed in my original healthcare system,” she says. “I was so excited when I heard there was this option. It made a huge difference for me.”




Rebuilding What Cancer Takes Away

Medical center surgeons take new approach with breast reconstruction


Breast cancer survivor Sunny Reicks talks with reconstructive surgeon Dr. Fredrick Durden

When breast cancer attacked again, Sunny Reicks was unsure if she could go through the recovery process again.

She knew it would be just as hard – if not harder – on her 9-year-old son. This time, he was old enough to understand and ask those gut-wrenching questions no parent wants to answer. She turned to the oncology and plastic surgery teams at The Nebraska Medical Center who controlled and removed the cancer and used an advanced breast reconstruction technique to create new, natural breasts using tissue from other parts of her body. 

Reicks’ journey began in 2005. Just 24 years old, she noticed her left breast felt a little bigger than her right. No big deal, she thought – but better get it checked.

“My mom had breast cancer at 32,” Reicks said. “She advocated self-exams often. She pounded it into my mind.” 

A mammogram and biopsy found cancerous cells that hadn’t spread. Her doctors at the time encouraged her to have both breasts removed (double mastectomy), hoping the cancer wouldn’t return. 

Then in 2011, Reicks noticed a lump on her left breast just six months after having a revision done to her original breast reconstruction with implants. Diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer, she came to the medical center.

First, surgical oncologist James Edney, MD, performed the mastectomy, removing her reconstructed breasts. 

“Seventy percent of my patients opt for a reconstruction the same day as the mastectomy,” Dr. Edney said. “But in Sunny’s case, the extent of the tumor meant we needed to continue with radiation and delay reconstruction.”

That meant Reicks’ next step was radiation and chemotherapy directed by oncologist Elizabeth Reed, MD. 

Plastic surgeon Perry Johnson, MD, advised that the radiation treatments, coupled with the lack of tissue around her implants, made her a poor candidate for breast reconstruction using implants. 

Reicks’ options were limited, but one of them included a different type of reconstruction procedure done by plastic surgeon Frederick Durden Jr., MD.

“Dr. Johnson told me that flap surgery with Dr. Durden was my best option,” Reicks said. “So I researched it and I felt comfortable with what I read about the procedure online and what Dr. Durden showed me.” 

Dr. Durden believes in educating his patients on all the options for breast reconstruction. Theses include prostheses, implants and tissue transfers including rational flaps, free flaps and various microsurgical perforator flap techniques – his specialty. He showed Reicks pictures for each step of surgery. 

“Some women don’t like seeing the pictures, but it’s important to have a serious conversation about the variables involved,” Dr. Durden said. “This isn’t a minor procedure. Patients must be prepared to make a substantial investment of their time and health.” 

Dr. Durden removed tissue from her stomach area in order to reconstruct the new breasts. Almost a full month into recovery, Reicks said the results of the surgery exceeded her expectations. She has dealt with some pain, but she said cancer pain specialist Madhuri Are, MD, has helped her tremendously. She said her new breasts feel a lot different than the reconstructed implants she had previously. 

“They don’t move the same – they don’t sit the same. They’re just more natural – that’s what I like the best so far,” she said. “It also doesn’t hurt to have a skinnier tummy.” 

Nationally, only 25 to 30 percent of women who have a mastectomy undergo reconstruction. Dr. Durden hopes to raise that number not only by providing another surgical option, but by doing a better job of educating women at the right time. 

“We should be introducing women as early as possible, which is as soon as they are advised to undergo a mastectomy,” Dr. Durden said. 

Most women who undergo mastectomies are candidates for microsurgical flap or perforator flap breast reconstruction when natural tissue reconstruction is preferred over implant reconstruction. Many times, the surgery can be done the same day as the mastectomy. Dr. Durden says he’s just excited to give women like Reicks another option for rebuilding what cancer has taken away. 

“I felt this was a place I could really have an impact,” Dr. Durden said. 

“There is no one else nearby who does it,” Reicks said of the procedure. “I’m a single mother. I couldn’t drag my son to New Orleans or somewhere else in order to have this done and recover. If Dr. Durden wasn’t here in Nebraska, I wouldn’t have been able to get the surgery. I wouldn’t trade any of my breast care team: Drs. Durden, Reed, Edney, Johnson and Are. I don’t think there’s a better team anywhere.”

Free from seizures — Maggie’s Story

“I will not waste my time switching doctors again, because I have already done that too many times. I guess this is my last cry for help.”

That’s how Maggie Cannon ended a long email to the Deepak Madhavan, M.D., assistant professor of neurological sciences and medical director of The Nebraska Medical Center Epilepsy Program.
She did not know Dr. Madhavan, but after eight years of seizures and repeated appointments with neurologists all over Omaha, Cannon felt like she was out of options.
Watch the video to see how Dr. Madhavan helped find Cannon answers, treatment and a refreshed outlook on life.




Dr. Samuel Meisels, national leader in early childhood education, named executive director of NU’s Buffett Early Childhood Institute



Dr. Samuel J. Meisels, one of the nation’s leading authorities on the assessment of young children and early childhood development, has been named the founding executive director of the University of Nebraska’s Buffett Early Childhood Institute, NU President James B. Milliken announced today. Meisels, currently president of Erikson Institute in Chicago, the country’s premier graduate school in child development, will begin at the University of Nebraska on June 1, 2013. Prior to that date he will assist the university in beginning to develop staffing, strategy and other plans.

Additional quotes regarding Dr. Meisels’ appointment “We launched the Buffett Early Childhood Institute to become a national leader in early childhood education and development – to help create a more level playing field for at-risk children and families in Nebraska and beyond. Sam Meisels shares that vision and he is extraordinarily well-suited to lead the Institute,” Milliken said. “His extensive experience in teaching, research and advocacy; his outstanding reputation and expertise; and his passion for improving the lives of children and families will help us achieve our goal of becoming a national leader and model for public universities in addressing early childhood.”

Meisels said, “The Buffett Early Childhood Institute is being created at exactly the right time about precisely the right things in just the right way. The Institute has the philanthropic support, university backing, and applied research tradition that it needs to achieve its initial goals. It provides us with a rare opportunity to move the field of early childhood forward to change the lives of children and families in Nebraska and beyond. I am deeply honored to take on this new challenge.”

Jack Shonkoff, professor of child health and development in the Harvard School of Public Health and director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, said: “The establishment of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute put an important stake in the ground toward advancing the healthy development of young children and their families. The selection of Sam Meisels as the founding director assures that this promise will be realized not only for Nebraska but for the nation as a whole. Congratulations to the University of Nebraska for this inspiring appointment.”

Meisels has served as Erikson Institute president since January 2002. Erikson, an independent higher education institution, prepares child development and family service professionals for leadership. Through academic programs, applied research and community service and engagement, Erikson works to advance the ability of practitioners, researchers and decision-makers to improve life for children from birth to age 8 and their families. Erikson brings the newest scientific knowledge and theories about children’s development and learning into its classrooms and out into the community so that professionals serving children and families are informed, inspired and responsive.

Meisels led Erikson through a time of substantial growth. During the past decade the size of the student body more than doubled, the value of Erikson’s endowment doubled, and grants and contracts awarded to faculty and staff increased by nearly 150 percent. Meisels also spearheaded a capital campaign that allowed Erikson to build a new campus, establish centers devoted to clinical, pedagogical and policy matters, initiate new programs in distance learning and for dual language learners, and extend the institute’s influence on the field by investing more heavily in applied research and community-based interventions.

Meisels came to Erikson Institute after a distinguished 21-year career at the University of Michigan, where he is now professor and research scientist emeritus. At Michigan, he was awarded the Faculty Research Award in the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies. His research interests include developmental consequences of high-risk birth, with a focus on disabled children and infants born at extremely low birth weight; policy issues related to early intervention and assessment; and development of screening instruments and alternative assessment approaches for young children.

Previously, he was associate professor and director of the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School in the Department of Child Study at Tufts University and served as senior adviser in early childhood development at the Developmental Evaluation Clinic of Boston’s Children’s Hospital. He has taught in preschools, kindergarten and first grade in the Massachusetts public schools. Meisels graduated magna cum laude from the University of Rochester, where he studied philosophy, and his master’s and doctorate degrees are from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The Buffett Early Childhood Institute was created in 2011 with a generous gift from Omaha philanthropist Susan A. Buffett, chair of the Buffett Early Childhood Fund. The institute is a university-wide, multidisciplinary research, education and policy center focused on promoting the development and success of children from birth to age 8, especially those who are vulnerable because of poverty, abuse, or developmental, learning or behavioral challenges.

“Dr. Meisels is a world-class leader for the new Institute,” Buffett said. “He brings just the right vision, experience and skills needed to launch this initiative. With Sam at the helm, the Institute will play a major role in transforming early childhood practice, early childhood research and early childhood policy in Nebraska and across America.”

Meisels was named following a national search. The Buffett Institute search committee was chaired by Marjorie Kostelnik, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Meisels will be a tenured professor in the college, with courtesy appointments to be requested at the other campuses. Kostelnik said, “Dr. Meisels is an eloquent and forceful advocate for young children and their families. We welcome him to Nebraska and look forward to his leadership of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute.”

Other members of the search committee were:

•Charlie Bicak, senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, University of Nebraska at Kearney
•Eric Buchanan, assistant vice president and director of corporate and foundation relations, University of Nebraska Foundation
•Nancy Edick, dean of the College of Education, University of Nebraska at Omaha
•Ayman El-Mohandes, dean of the College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center
•Eleanor Kirkland, director of the Head Start-State Collaboration Office, State of Nebraska
•Helen Raikes, professor of child, youth & family studies, UNL
•Brian Maher, superintendent, Kearney Public Schools
•Jessie Rasmussen, president of the Buffett Early Childhood Fund
•Steve Seline, president of Walnut Private Equity Partners LLC
•Susan Sheridan, professor of educational psychology, UNL
•John Sparks, chair of pediatrics administration, UNMC
Melissa Lee
Communications Manager
University of Nebraska


UNMC liver transplant program not resting on its laurels

Posted: 10/07/2012 1:00 AM

The University of Nebraska Medical Center carved out a reputation for excellence 25 years ago through its pioneering liver transplant program.
Now the challenge of UNMC and many transplant hospitals is how to carve a niche in a field that has become cluttered with competitors.
About 240 U.S. hospitals have performed organ transplants this year while the number of available livers, kidneys, hearts and other organs has remained almost static over the past six years.
The Nebraska Medical Center, UNMC’s hospital partner, continues to perform large numbers of kidney and liver transplants and is a national leader in transplanting intestines.
But administrators are looking at other specialties to save more lives and maintain their program’s status.
The medical center intends next year to get back into lung transplants. Administrators also are considering creating a “national pediatric transplant center,” although no specific plans have been disclosed.
When Jennifer and Aaron Crook of the Union, Neb., area considered where to take their infant daughter, Maddy, for an intestinal transplant six years ago, medical professionals recommended hospitals in three cities: Pittsburgh, Miami and Omaha. Their proximity to Omaha made the choice obvious.
Maddy had a genetic disorder that affected her intestines, bladder and digestive system in general. Early on, it was clear she would need a transplant. She underwent two surgeries in her first two months of life and went on the waiting list for transplantation.
She was exhausted, her liver function was awful and her skin was yellow-orange. She was dying.
Five months into Maddy’s wait, her mother said, organs became available from the death of another girl. Maddy received a small intestine, pancreas and liver.
She was extremely puffy from fluids after the transplant, but her mother was delighted. “She had pink, rosy cheeks,” Jennifer Crook said. “It was amazing.”
The medical center performed its first intestinal transplant in 1990, and that program, along with the intestinal rehab clinic, has become one of the nation’s biggest and best.
But the hospital’s golden age of transplantation, when it was viewed as a rare center of excellence in the middle of the nation, belongs to the past. Transplants generally are no longer on the cutting edge of medical science, and many hospitals, including four in Iowa and eight in Missouri, have transplanted organs this year.
Dr. Alan Langnas, director of transplantation at the Nebraska Medical Center, said aspiring transplant surgeons used to read “The Right Stuff,” Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book about experimental jet pilots and the first astronauts. But transplantation is more commonplace and no longer dramatic enough to be compared to rocket testing, he said.
Nevertheless, Langnas said, the medical center continues to do excellent work in the field.
“I think we’re pretty special,” said Langnas, who has headed the program since 1997. “We don’t rest on our laurels around here, I can assure you of that.”
The medical center started its liver transplant program in 1985, when few hospitals in the Midwest were transplanting livers. Administrators recruited Dr. Byers “Bud” Shaw, who had worked under Dr. Thomas Starzl, the transplant star in Pittsburgh.
Dr. Charles Andrews, UNMC’s chancellor at the time, said it was a real advantage to be in the middle of the country and able to procure livers from east and west. The program bolstered UNMC’s reputation.
“It was something new, exciting and great and all that stuff, which was really vital for us back then,” said Andrews, who retired in 1991. “Everybody likes to be with a winner, and we were winners in liver transplants.”
In 1988 – the first year a federal agency tracked numbers of transplants – the medical center ranked third in the nation in liver transplants, with 119, behind the University of Pittsburgh and UCLA. Last year the medical center ranked 21st, having done 90.
Patients awaiting transplants are listed on a national database, and available organs generally are allocated to extremely ill people in the state where they came from or, if no suitable match is found in-state, people in the region from which the organs were procured.
The competition for livers in the region has become far more intense since 1988. That year, the University of Kansas, St. Louis University and the University of Colorado did a total of 11 liver transplants. Last year, those three institutions did a total of 212.
Numbers of available organs have increased little, if at all, over the past few years. Traffic fatalities in the United States, a key source of organs, declined about 25 percent from 2005 through 2011.
Nationwide, 6,342 livers were transplanted last year, down from 6,444 in 2005. When all organs are considered, 28,537 were transplanted last year, up slightly from 28,118 in 2005.
UNMC Chancellor Harold Maurer said the medical center has won international recognition for transplantation and generated pride within the state. The hospital transplants five organs, including hearts.
Maurer said transplant hospitals are all over the country. “But people still go to the best place with the best results,” he said.
Statistics from a Minnesota agency that tracks results, the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, indicate the medical center has average outcomes when compared with other hospitals and when adjusted for difficulty of case.
Langnas generally agreed with that assessment, saying the medical center produces the results that are expected of such a transplant center.
“We are at the national average in outcome,” he said.
Given that the quantity of available organs has flattened out while the number of people on the waiting list has risen, scientists and physicians are devising diverse strategies to avoid transplantation.
At the medical center, for instance, medical professionals work with patients suffering intestinal disease to preserve their intestines through surgeries, nutrition, medications and monitoring. The intestinal rehab program is the “biggest competition we have for our transplant program,” Langnas said. “Which is fantastic.”
Heart surgeons are making strides with ventricular assist devices to not only delay transplantation, but even render it unnecessary.
Dr. A. Joseph Tector, chief medical officer for Indiana University’s busy transplant program, said his institution is making progress in dealing with pig organs and rejection challenges. Testing pig organs in humans most likely will take place within 10 years, Tector said.
“If it worked, we could use it for all organs,” he said.
But human organ transplantation continues to be a life-saving treatment for many.
Langnas said the medical center is one of the few comprehensive programs in the nation that take on numerous patients who are comparatively ill even for people on organ waiting lists. “We are a port of last call,” Langnas said.
A Minnesota-based transplant consultant agreed that the Omaha medical center is among hospitals that accept really tough cases. But the consultant, Roger Evans, questioned whether it’s wise to do so when the number of available organs is virtually stagnant and the number of patients on waiting lists is growing.
Evans, who called the medical center “an excellent program,” argued that patients who will receive maximum benefit from the limited supply of organs should receive highest consideration.
Transplant surgeons talk at conferences about how to transplant elderly people or incredibly ill patients, he said. Early next year, for instance, a meeting in Miami will discuss, among other topics, how to “transplant the untransplantable.”
Langnas said the medical center won’t place organs into just anyone. But balancing getting the most years out of an organ with saving an extremely ill person can be difficult, he said. That’s why an ethicist sits in on the program’s patient selection discussions, he said.
“We take our responsibility as stewards of the organs very seriously.”
Next year, the medical center intends to get back into lung transplants. Officials successfully recruited Dr. Michael Moulton, a cardiothoracic surgeon who performed lung transplants at the University of Arizona. The Nebraska Medical Center hasn’t done a lung transplant since 1998.
The medical center also is considering creating a “national pediatric transplant center,” said Glenn Fosdick, CEO of the Nebraska Medical Center. That would most likely mean organizing his hospital’s considerable pediatric transplant resources into one spot.
Fosdick said it wouldn’t mean building new facilities but connecting children’s inpatient and outpatient space for liver and intestine transplants.
Over 2010 and 2011, the medical center did the second-highest number of intestinal transplants in the nation, but the number was fairly low: 38. Children received many of those transplants.
Only Indiana University Health’s 55 exceeded the local total over those two years.
The Nebraska Medical Center’s expertise and location made it attractive to the Crooks when infant Maddy needed an intestinal transplant.
“Otherwise, we would have been traveling a long, long way,” said mom Jennifer Crook.
The Crooks live on a hill between Plattsmouth and Nebraska City. Six-year-old Maddy roams that wooded rise with her brother, 9-year-old Cole, and their cat, Mittens.
Although Maddy eats and drinks, she still has a feeding tube in her nose for additional nutrition. Her mother said the feeding tube will eventually be permanently removed. An ileostomy in Maddy’s abdomen collects waste. That necessity will remain with Maddy throughout her life.
“I think, all things considered, that’s pretty minor,” Jennifer Crook said of the ileostomy, which empties the waste into a discreetly situated pouch.
Jennifer Crook showed a photo album containing shots of Maddy’s battle for her life six years ago. Her mother said she had doubted Maddy would make it to her first birthday.
On Friday, Maddy and her parents, brother and grandparents celebrated with ice cream cake and gifts the sixth anniversary of her transplant. They call the anniversary Tummy Day.
Contact the writer: 402-444-1123, rick.ruggles@owh.com, twitter.com/rickruggles
Jennifer Crook describes how her daughter, Maddy, 6, received a pancreas, liver and lower bowel transplant six years ago. On the anniversary of Maddy’s transplant, the family celebrates Tummy Day.

Hospital ranked as state’s best by U.S.News and World Report


U.S.News and World Report surveyed the nation’s roughly 5,000 hospitals to come up with this year’s list of Best Hospitals. Fewer than 150 of those hospitals are nationally ranked.


UNMC faculty members helped The Nebraska Medical Center rank as the state’s best hospital according to the U.S.News and World Report.


The Nebraska Medical Center is ranked in five different specialties:

Cancer (No. 40)
Gastroenterology (No. 25)
Nephrology (No. 41)
Neurology and Neurosurgery (No. 40)
Orthopaedics (No. 36)

The publication also rated the medical center as “high performing” in the following specialties:

Cardiology & Heart Surgery
Diabetes & Endocrinology
Ear, Nose & Throat

In addition to these rankings, U.S.News and World Report ranked The Nebraska Medical Center as the top hospital in the state. Of the 16 specialties studied by U.S.News and World Report, The Nebraska Medical Center was ranked in 12.
“This is wonderful recognition of the outstanding work of our faculty, which is now being recognized across the country,” said UNMC Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D. “It’s in keeping with the emergence of UNMC as a ranking academic medical center in the United States.”

“These rankings are proof of the tremendous amount of work our physicians and staff have done to care for our patients; many of whom have come here from all over with very serious and rare conditions,” said Glenn Fosdick, president and CEO of The Nebraska Medical Center.

The medical center’s cancer and neurology/neurosurgery programs have been ranked on the Top Hospitals list before. It’s a first for gastroenterology, nephrology and orthopaedics.
The hospital rankings, said U.S.News Health Rankings Editor Avery Comarow, are like a GPS-type aid to help steer patients to hospitals with strong skills in the procedures and medical conditions that present the biggest challenges. “All of these hospitals are the kinds of medical centers that should be on your list when you need the best care,” Comarow said. “They are where other hospitals send the toughest cases.”


Celebration Marks 100th Heart Transplant Performed

The Nebraska Medical Center and UNMC celebrated a significant milestone June 2, by pulling together patients, physicians and medical staff to mark the 100th heart transplant performed since the program was re-established in 2005.

Jorge Parodi, executive director of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Services, noted that as a hospital we often measure the success of a program in “survival rates or quality of life measurements,” but in looking around at the event he said, “It is evident the success of this program is measured in moments and receiving the opportunity to spend more time with your loved ones, your family and your friends.”

The night was filled with unscripted speeches from patients as many took to the microphone to recognize the physicians and staff who had done so much to help them through their transplant journey. One patient in particular, acknowledged that it is very rare in life that you meet a physician who will go above and beyond for your care, but that every physician he met at The Nebraska Medical Center did just that for him. In turn, Ioana Dumitru, MD, medical director of the Advanced Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation Program, emphasized the strength of patients who place their faith in the team of physicians and staff to help heal and treat them.

The milestone serves as proof of the extraordinary care patients receive from the outstanding team of physicians, nurses and their support staff at the medical center. Many patients identified one of the most critical aspects to their health recovery as the opportunity to be at home with family and friends. All were relieved to find out they would be in the hands of expert medical staff trained in advanced cardiac failure with the stability of being in a comfortable and familiar setting.

While the 100th heart transplant is significant, the team is not slowing down. “Six months ago when we starting planning this celebration we were at 90 heart transplants and I was a little concerned we wouldn’t make it to 100,” said Parodi. “But I am happy to announce that as of today we have performed 109 heart transplants at The Nebraska Medical Center,” said Parodi.

With the continued growth and expansion of the cardiac failure team and the Heart Transplantation Program it is not hard to imagine the celebration for the 200th heart transplant will be here before we know it.


Lymphoma Study Group Dinner Meeting and Pan Pacific Lymphoma Conference Update

Lymphoma Study Group Dinner Meeting and Pan Pacific Lymphoma Conference Update
August 28-29, 2009
Hilton Omaha
Omaha, NE
Click here to view brochure


Date-Registration Deadline: 8/21/2009
08/28/2009 6:00 P.M. – 08/29/2009 7:30 P.M.

Hilton Omaha
1001 Cass Street
Omaha NE 68102

Target Audience
These activities are intended for physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, residents, and fellows in the specialty areas of oncology, hematology, internal medicine, radiation oncology, and pathology.

Course Objectives

1. Discuss whether to continue the use of WW, CHOP-R vs. CVP-R and the Rituximab maintenance issues.

2. Develop knowledge on the use of prognostic factors for the choice of therapy for patients with lymphoma.

3. Recognize the use of novel agents for patients with lymphoma.

4. Review the indications for CT and PET scan monitoring for patients in complete remission.


Past Events…



  2009 Pan Pacific Lymphoma Conference
June 22-26, 2009
The Fairmont Orchid
The Kohala Coast, Big Island, Hawaii

Click here to view conference information package

Heart Transplant Recipient Inspired to Volunteer

When you see Eulish Moore walking the halls of the Cardiac Progressive Care Unit on the 7th floor of Clarkson Tower, it is hard to believe that little more than a year ago, he had accepted that he was dying.

“I had accepted my fate,” he recalled. “ I said, ‘if death is this peaceful, I’m okay with it. I’m ready to go.’”

Moore was in intensive care in another Omaha hospital where he was being treated for congestive heart failure. His wife was not willing to let him go.

“She did some research on the internet,” Moore said. “She found out the med center had this device, an LVAD (left ventricular assist device).”

Moore’s wife arranged a transfer. The next day he arrived at The Nebraska Medical Center. Though he was too weak to remember any of it now, he and his family met with the heart failure team, led by Ioana Dumitru, MD. They had new hope.

“My heart got new life on Valentine’s Day 2011,” Moore said. He now had an LVAD helping his heart. The device helped his weakened heart by taking over much of the heart’s function. His journey was not over. Moore was listed for a heart transplant.

His new heart came to him in August. With a new heart came a new outlook for Moore. The man who had once resigned himself to dying was more intent than ever on living.

“I want to do everything I can to make sure this young heart will function the way it’s meant to,” said Moore. “At some point, the daughter of my donor, who was born two weeks after he passed away, will get to touch this heart and know that her father was a really generous man.”

His desire to give back does not just extend to his donor’s family. Three months after transplant, Moore made a commitment to help others going through the same process he did. Three days each week, Moore is back on the CPCU; not as a patient but as a hospital volunteer. He talks with patients who are considering an LVAD or a transplant; or who have just had those surgeries.

“Life is really meaningful,” he said. “Tomorrow isn’t promised to us so we need to make the best of what we have today. And I am loving it.”

Moore is living those words every day. He was recently named volunteer of the year for the city of Bellevue Mayor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Education. He plans to return to work as a drug and alcohol counselor soon.


Nebraska’s First Heart/Liver Transplant Patient Goes Home After “Great Surgery”

Kathryn Slattery knew a heart transplant was a possibility at some point in her life. She never imagined she would get a new liver as well. On January 10, Slattery, then 17 years old, became the first person in Nebraska to ever receive a combination heart and liver transplant.

She recalled the moment when she received the news that a heart and liver were available for transplant.


“I was nervous and excited,” she said. “I started texting my friends right away.”

The transplant surgery began late in the afternoon on January 10. It lasted 14 hours. Cardiac surgeons John Um, MD and Jim Hammel, MD performed the heart transplant first. When Slattery’s new heart began beating, the liver transplant team began their portion of the operation. Transplant surgeons Jean Botha, MD, Wendy Grant, MD and David Mercer, MD, PhD worked through the early hours of January 11 to complete the procedure.

“It really was a great surgery all around,” Dr. Mercer said. “The heart surgery was just fantastic; the cardiac transplant team did such a great job.”


Heart and liver transplant recipient Kathryn Slattery describes her recovery as transplant surgeon Dr. David Mercer looks on.


The transplant was Slattery’s fourth open heart surgery. She was born with a condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which causes incomplete development on parts of the left side of the heart.

“Kathryn had pancreatitis in 2008,” her father Jim Slattery said. “That was our first indication there might be a problem with her liver as well.”

On December 1, she called home from school in Lincoln saying she did not feel well. Four days later she was admitted to Children’s Hospital and Medical Center. After spending two weeks at Children’s, she was transferred to The Nebraska Medical Center to be put on the transplant list.

Heart/liver transplants are rare. According to the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network, just 28 such surgeries were done in 2010 and 2011. Of those 28, only three were children.

“We have done so many of the individual organ transplants (heart and liver) here, we felt confident in our ability to do both for Kathryn,” said Dr. Mercer.

Slattery turned 18 during her recovery in the hospital.

“We had a party in one of the conference rooms,” she recalled. “Cake, pizza and opening presents; it was great.”

Slattery said her best present will be to go home and sleep in her own bed for the first time in two months.

The family shared their sincere thanks for the donor, the donor’s family and their sacrifice. They also expressed thanks to everyone at the medical center.

“It was always our choice of where to have this surgery done,” said Marilyn Slattery, Kathryn’s mother. “The confidence we had after meeting the surgical team, and their willingness to do it – that made the decision. I couldn’t imagine having it done anywhere else.”