Archive for 2014

More Lung Cancer Awareness Could Lead to Better Patient Outcomes

Lung cancer is the main cause of cancer related death in the United States and world-wide. The proportion of patients with lung cancer surviving 5 years or greater is a dismal 15 percent. This statistic has not changed substantially in the past 30 years. One of the major causes of the dismal survival seen in lung cancer today is that most patients are diagnosed when the tumor is quite advanced. Lung cancer caught in an early stage is curable with surgery, but unfortunately only a minority of patients present at an early stage. If there was a way in which more patients were detected at an early stage, then outcomes for lung cancer patients would improve dramatically.

While this sounds simple in theory, the fact is that we currently do not have any way to detect lung cancer in the early stages. Most patients who have early stage lung cancer are identified serendipitously on a scan performed for something completely unrelated. The tests that we have today to diagnose lung cancer, chest X-rays, sputum analysis and Computerized Axial Tomography (CT) scans are fraught with problems.

Most patients who have early stage lung cancer are identified serendipitously on a scan performed for something completely unrelated.

Multiple studies both in the United States and abroad performed in the 1960’s and 1970’s have shown that screening for lung cancer with a chest X-ray and sputum studies actually resulted in an increased mortality, rather than increasing survival from lung cancer. There have been a number of advances in CT scan technology in the past few decades and there has been a renewed interest in using CT scans to screen for lung cancer. Current studies from Japan, Italy and United States appear promising, but use of CT scans to screen for lung cancer is not yet ready for primetime. Clearly we need to do more in order to improve the outcomes of patients with lung cancer.

A major reason for the lack of major advances in the lung cancer field is the minimal funding for lung cancer research. One reason for this may be the absence of long-term survivors who can raise lung cancer awareness in the society and also be passionate advocates for increased funding support, much like the breast cancer survivor. Another more worrisome reason is the apathy of professional organizations and funding agencies towards lung cancer. I was at a meeting a couple of years ago, when a speaker mentioned in a very tongue in cheek manner, “Finally the American Lung Association has acknowledged the fact that lung cancer is a disease of the lung!” Increased funding for research has led to dramatic improvements in results from breast cancer and so it stands to reason that the same will be true for lung cancer as well.

As a lung cancer doctor, I live on optimism. Recently there has been increasing activity among patient advocacy groups, such as The National Lung Cancer Partnership and the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation trying to raise awareness of lung cancer. The daughter of one of my patients, living in Omaha, Neb. recently set up an organization called “Where is The Funding for lung cancer?” She likes to call it “WTF” for effect. If these and other efforts are successful, there is no reason why we should not be able to increase the number of lung cancer survivors in the near future.

New Heart Procedure Helps Mitral Regurgitation Patients


For 78-year-old Viola Foley, nothing brings a bigger smile to her face than talking about family, country music or Nebraska Medicine.

“I tell everyone that the nicest doctors in the world work here,” she says. “They saved my life more than once.”

After raising nine children in Springfield, Neb., Foley underwent a liver transplant at Nebraska Medicine – Nebraska Medical Center and battled breast cancer twice.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer six years before my liver transplant, then again four years later. It’s amazing how far I’ve come.”

Once Foley passed the 10-year mark for her transplant, she started having serious breathing problems. Walking across the living room was almost impossible. In September, she made an appointment with Nebraska Medicine cardiologist Thomas Porter, MD.

“Dr. Porter did an echocardiogram,” remembers Foley. “He discovered that my heart and liver were working against each other. One of my heart valves wasn’t opening and shutting the right way.”

In September, Foley was diagnosed with mitral regurgitation (MR), a condition that affects four million people in the United States. The heart’s mitral valve leaflets don’t close tightly, causing blood to flow backwards from the heart’s left ventricle into the left atrium. It makes the heart work harder at pushing blood through the body, leading to shortness of breath, fatigue and worsening heart failure. For many patients, open-heart mitral valve surgery is generally recommended, but for Foley, surgery wasn’t an option.

“She currently has a life threatening blood disorder that prohibits her from having any open surgical procedures,” says Michael Moulton, MD, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Nebraska Medicine. “Her only shot was to have the MitraClip procedure, which was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”


The MitraClip Clip Delivery System (MitraClip CDS) is a new option for patients diagnosed with MR, who have too high a risk for surgery. The procedure consists of implant catheters and the MitraClip device, which is a permanent implant that attaches to the mitral valve leaflets, reducing the leakiness of the valve.

On October 1, Foley became the first patient to undergo the procedure at Nebraska Medicine. With the help of a catheter, Nebraska Medicine chief of interventional cardiology, Gregory Pavlides, MD, inserted the MitraClip device through a blood vessel in Foley’s groin, guiding it to her heart. The surgical team could watch in real time on the echo machine if the mitral regurgitation was appropriately reduced. Once the MitraClip device was in place, the catheter was removed.

“This procedure requires a lot of skill from interventional cardiology, imaging cardiology and anesthesia,” explains Dr. Pavlides. “Not many places in the area have the infrastructure to offer the MitraClip procedure as well as we can; based on our experience with the mitral valve and our superb imaging and cath lab skills.”

Foley’s procedure took approximately one hour and 30 minutes. She spent a little over three days in the hospital before going home. Since then, she’s regained her strength, is able to walk up and down the stairs and feed her pets without feeling fatigued. She’s excited for the next chapter in her life, which includes watching her great-grandson attend the University of Nebraska Medical Center with the hopes of becoming a cardiologist.

“I am forever grateful,” says Foley. “I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t have this option. I’m really proud to be the first patient at Nebraska Medicine to have the MitraClip procedure. Couldn’t have asked for a better crew or a better place.”

Nebraska Medicine anticipates performing the procedure on 2-4 patients per month. To connect with a member of the Heart Center team regarding the MitraClip, call (402) 559-8888 or visit their website.


UNMC flow cytometer among world’s finest

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC public relations

Philip Hexley, Ph.D.

Philip Hexley, Ph.D., research core facility director at the flow cytometry research facility, likens flow cytometry to a grocery check-out scanner. But instead of scanning bar codes for information, it uses lasers to read cells.

A close-up of the flow cell in the new Fortessa X50 flow cytometer, a key fluidics component for single cell analysis. 

Researchers can use the technology to analyze physical and chemical properties of single cells in suspension — up to 35,000 of them per second.

“As you can imagine, this is incredibly valuable data, allowing us to get statistically significant cell numbers with robust and quantitative data,” Dr. Hexley said.

For more photos of the flow cytometer, click here.

And perhaps the world’s best instrument for doing so resides on the first floor of the Durham Research Center.

Top-line flow cytometers have the capability to capture up to 18 different pieces of information about a single cell. But UNMC’s new Fortessa X50 flow cytometer, which arrived late this last summer, uses up to nine lasers and can acquire up to 30 different pieces of information.

“Our researchers really have a fantastic opportunity to get data at a level which is not possible at any other institution,” Dr. Hexley said.

There is one other instrument on the planet — at the National Institutes of Health — with comparable capabilities, although it does not have as many lasers, making it less flexible in its capabilities.

UNMC’s one-of-a-kind new cytometer is not yet available anywhere. It is the latest in production from BD Biosciences, which, Dr. Hexley said, hopes to release this model on the commercial market sometime in the summer of 2015.

Meanwhile, UNMC is getting a state-of-the-art sneak preview, beta-testing it. This model will likely cost about $1.3 million, but because of the collaborative partnership, UNMC got it for about half that.

“We got a great deal,” Dr. Hexley said. “But BD got a good deal as well.” UNMC is helping BD further develop the hardware and software as beta testing goes on.

“It’s truly mind-blowing to have access to this technology,” Dr. Hexley said.

For more on flow cytometry opportunities at UNMC, go here or contact Dr. Hexley.

Setting the standard in Ebola care

by Elizabeth Kumru, UNMC public relations

From left, UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D, Shelley Schwedhelm, Angela Hewlett, M.D., Phil Smith, M.D., Ali Khan, M.D., M.P.H., John Lowe, Ph.D., and Nebraska Medicine President Brad Britigan, M.D.
The successful treatment of two men who had Ebola has turned UNMC and Nebraska Medicine into the go-to institution of the world for advice on care and protocols.

“Nebraska has set the gold standards for Ebola care,” said Philip Smith, M.D., professor of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, and medical director of the Biocontainment Unit. “We embody everything that went right.”

“Not every institution in the U.S. had this vision and could step up and do the cutting-edge research, education and patient care to protect our citizens. That’s what an academic medical center does.”

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.

Dr. Smith was part of a five-person panel of experts who spoke to more than 60 UNMC students and faculty members at a 90-minute “Ebola Explained” discussion last week.

Watch the presentation here. (A UNMC login is needed to view the discussion.)

The medical center received extensive global media attention – via television, print and social media – over the two-month period, said UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.

“We were in the top 10 tweets and were number three for a while – only exceeded by the National Football League,” he said before showing a video of news reports that highlighted UNMC’s heroic response.

Dr. Gold praised Dr. Smith’s foresight in building the unit.

“Not every institution in the U.S. had this vision and could step up and do the cutting-edge research, education and patient care to protect our citizens. That’s what an academic medical center does.”

Bradley Britigan, M.D., dean of the UNMC College of Medicine and president of Nebraska Medicine, served as moderator for the panel of experts that included:

•Ali Khan, M.D., M.P.H., dean, UNMC College of Public Health and former director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
•Dr. Smith;
•Angela Hewlett, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine-infectious diseases, and associate medical director of the Biocontainment Unit;
•John Lowe, Ph.D., assistant professor, environmental, agricultural and occupational health; associate director of research, Biocontainment Unit, director of Public Health Training and Exercise Programs, Center for Preparedness Education;
•Shelly Schwedhelm, director of the emergency department’s trauma and emergency preparedness at Nebraska Medicine.

Although some team members or family members had been shunned because they were working in the Biocontainment Unit, many experienced support and gratitude from the community. And nothing is more complimentary than imitation.

So, two experts were pleased to see three elementary school children dressed in a kid’s adaptation of the yellow biocontainment suit for Halloween.

You know you’ve reached a certain coolness factor when that happens.

Second Ebola patient released

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations

From left, Phil Smith, M.D., medical director of the Biocontainment Unit at Nebraska Medicine-Nebraska Medical Center and professor of internal medicine/infectious diseases at UNMC, Ashoka Mukpo, and Andre Kalil, M.D., professor of internal medicine/infectious diseases at UNMC. (Photo courtesy Taylor Wilson, Nebraska Medicine)

UNMC’s second Ebola patient, Ashoka Mukpo, was released from the Biocontainment Unit Wednesday after multiple tests confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that he was free of Ebola.

Although Mukpo did not attend Wednesday’s new conference, UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., read a prepared statement in which Mukpo called it a “joyful day.”

“After enduring weeks where it was unclear whether I would survive, I’m walking out of the hospital on my own power, free from Ebola,” the statement said. “This blessing is in no small measure a result of the world-class care I received at the Nebraska Medical Center.

See a video interview with Ashoka Mukpo here.

“When Dr. Smith and his team first received me, I was in a difficult situation and was quite sick. The professionalism and confidence of the team instantly reassured me that I was in good hands. The nursing staff was incredibly calm and handled my symptoms in a manner that clearly reflected strong training and preparedness.”

Mukpo also said the nursing staff had introduced him to “something called a ‘Runza.'”

For the complete text of Mukpo’s statement, click here.

Phil Smith, M.D., medical director of the Biocontainment Unit at Nebraska Medicine-Nebraska Medical Center and professor of internal medicine/infectious diseases at UNMC, praised the health care team, noting that Nebraska Medicine and UNMC staff continue to volunteer to work at the unit.

He praised the efforts of Shelly Schwedhelm, director of Emergency Department, Trauma and Emergency Preparedness at Nebraska Medicine, in assembling a group that has now helped two patients overcome the Ebola virus.

“Shelly has done a tremendous job of selecting and recruiting the best we have, and we have more people volunteering than we can use,” Dr. Smith said.

Schwedhelm and Angela Hewlett, M.D., associate medical director of the Biocontainment Unit and assistant professor of internal medicine/infectious diseases at UNMC, joined Dr. Smith at the press conference.

Dr. Gold said that U.S. government agencies had reached out to UNMC and Nebraska Medicine for assistance and input into ways to stop the spread of the virus both in the U.S. and Africa, and ways to educate both health care facilities and the general public in the United States.

Dr. Smith said that, until the Biocontainment Unit was asked to care for another Ebola patient, “we will use this time to try to share our knowledge as best we can with the rest of the world.”

Pediatric Liver Transplant Program Provides Depth of Experience and Expertise

dr-mercerNebraska Medicine has been a leader in both adult and pediatric liver transplants since the program was founded in 1985. The program averages approximately 80 adult liver transplants and 20 to 25 pediatric transplants annually.

“We are one of the oldest and busiest programs in the country with a very skilled and experienced team of physicians, nurses, educators and other support staff,” says Wendy Grant, MD, transplant surgeon at Nebraska Medicine. “This team works together very closely to make this a positive experience not only for the child, but for the whole family.”

Transplant surgeons at Nebraska Medicine have many years of experience and are backed by a large pool of pediatric specialists including pediatric hepatologists, intestinal failure specialists and liver/kidney infectious disease specialists. “We have the dedication and all the resources needed to follow these patients for the rest of their lives,” says Dr. Grant. “It’s very a patient-focused and family-friendly environment. These patients become part of our family.”

Other transplant surgeons include David Mercer, MD, PhD, Luciano Vargas, MD and Alan Langnas, DO, director of the Liver Transplant Program.

“Our depth of experience also allows us to take on cases that are some of the most complex and technically challenging,” says Dr. Grant.

The most common problem that may necessitate a liver transplant in children is biliary atresia. Biliary atresia usually presents in infants at about two to three months old and will result in a jaundiced appearance. “The child should undergo a physical, blood tests and ultrasound as soon as possible,” says Dr. Grant.

If the condition is diagnosed early enough, surgery to repair the blocked bile ducts may be successful. “If the liver becomes scarred, a transplant will be needed,” notes Dr. Grant. “Some children will need a liver transplant within the first year of life.”

Another less common indication for liver transplant is a cancer called hepatoblastoma. First line treatment for hepatoblastoma includes chemotherapy and surgical resection of the liver. If the tumor is not resectable, a transplant is a viable option, says Dr. Grant.

Nebraska Medicine Liver Transplant Program also has the advantage of being supported by one of the leading intestinal rehabilitation programs in the country. “We can often reverse their intestinal and liver disease so they won’t need a transplant at all,” notes Dr. Grant. “In those who present with advanced liver disease, we are very aggressive in trying to get them off TPN so they can avoid an intestinal transplant.”

For those children needing a liver transplant, living donor transplantation is an option. Nebraska Medicine has an active living donor liver transplant program. Donors do not necessarily have to be a relative. Donors go through a rigorous screening process. Matching is done based on size and blood type. This program allows children more opportunity for transplant and decreases the risk that a child would die while waiting for a transplant.

For patients who receive a liver transplant, the outlook is good. The five-year survival rate is 80 percent or more. “Surgery and immunosuppressant drugs have greatly improved over the years,” says Dr. Grant. “We have many patients who have been living with their transplants for 20 to 25 years. Most patients go on to live a normal life aside from the immunosuppressant drugs they must take daily.”

Advances in Brain Tumor Treatment Continue to Progress

Not only is brain cancer very rare, affecting less than 1 percent of the population, brain tumors can be both difficult to diagnose and to treat.

There are more than 120 different types of brain tumors that can have varying symptoms ranging from a headache to memory loss or seizures, depending on the tumor’s location in the brain. These symptoms often mimic other neurological conditions.

Brain tumors also have one of the least favorable outcomes. But Nicole Shonka, MD, neuro-onocologist at Nebraska Medicine, says that is starting to change. While advancements in the treatment of brain cancers have been slow, there has been progress in small steps and Dr. Shonka is confident new advancements are just around the corner.

Nicole Shonka, MD

Dr. Shonka is the only fellowship-trained neuro-oncologist in the state specializing in brain tumors. An assistant professor in oncology/hematology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), she joined the staff in 2010. Dr. Shonka received her medical degree from UNMC where she also completed her residency and general oncology fellowship. She completed an additional neuro-oncology fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center, one of the top cancer centers in the nation and a highly respected neuro-oncology fellowship – one of a few programs in the country. The program draws from a large population base that allows doctors to see up to 3,000 primary brain tumors a year. “Completing my training there allowed me to see many more brain tumors, including the rarer ones,” notes Dr. Shonka.

This is important, notes Dr. Shonka, “As there are many nuances in this field that you may not be aware of unless you have that additional training.”

Treatment for brain tumors typically involves surgery followed by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. Pseudo-progression and radiation necrosis are two conditions that can develop during cancer treatment that can be misinterpreted by the untrained eye and change the treatment regimen.

“Glioblastomas (the most common type of malignant brain tumor in adults) often develop pseudo-progression the first several months after treatment,” explains Dr. Shonka. “Pseudo-progression could easily be misinterpreted by someone unfamiliar with these cancers as evidence that the treatment is ineffective.”

Some patients may also develop radiation necrosis, which can appear to be additional tumor growth, she says.

Chemotherapy has been a big area of advancement for brain tumors. “In the past 10 years, we have developed better chemotherapies for treating brain cancers which have helped improve survival rates for nearly all brain cancer patients,” says Dr. Shonka.

Other advances lie in the realm of personalized medicine, in which cancer treatment is based on a person’s unique genetic makeup. In brain cancers, this includes the discovery of molecular markers which can provide both prognostic and predictive data. Scientists have also discovered variances in the molecular features of glioblastomas that have allowed them to classify them differently. This is spurring the development of personalized therapies based on these classifications.

“We are currently studying certain enzymes which can help predict a patient’s response to therapy or provide us information about their prognosis,” says Dr. Shonka. “This will help us determine what therapies to use and how aggressively to treat a patient.”

Dr. Shonka says she expects research to reach a new level at Nebraska Medicine with the creation of the new Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, which is expected to be open in 2017.

“With the new cancer center, we will all be housed in greater proximity which I believe will foster more collaboration among clinicians and researchers and should help to expedite moving new advances from basic sciences research to the bedside,” she says.

“This is an exciting time to be a neuro-oncologist and I’m increasingly optimistic about the future for patients with brain tumors,” says Dr. Shonka.

Pancreas Transplant Can Improve Quality of Life for Type 1 Diabetes Patients

A pancreas alone or pancreas/kidney transplant can greatly improve quality of life for patients with severe Type 1 diabetes.

“The key is to have them evaluated for a transplant, and get the disease process arrested before they experience end organ damage,” says Alexander Maskin, MD, assistant professor of surgery and transplant surgeon at Nebraska Medicine.

“If they receive a pancreas transplant early on, we can prevent or mitigate other complications from occurring such as diabetic retinopathy, neuropathy and nephropathy,” he says.

Alex Maskin, MD

Patients with difficult-to-manage Type 1 diabetes typically experience frequent swings in blood glucose levels, which can be difficult to control with some insulin regimens. Even worse, they can develop hypoglycemic unawareness in which their glucose levels drop so low that they can become unconscious. “This can be a life-threatening problem that can result in frequent emergency room visits and hospital admissions” says Dr. Maskin.

By the time the kidney pancreas transplant team evaluates them for surgery, many have also suffered severe kidney damage and require both a pancreas and kidney transplant.

The good news is that both pancreas and pancreas/kidney transplants are highly successful and curative. “Patients have better quality of life, don’t have to administer daily insulin injections, can eliminate most dietary and activity restrictions and no longer live in fear of having a seizure or episodes of unconsciousness,” says Dr. Maskin. “In addition, a functioning pancreas transplant can provide a level of protection for the kidneys and other organs affected by diabetic changes.”

The transplants can last 15 to 20 years. At that point, a patient can be reevaluated for a second transplant if needed, Dr. Maskin says. Pancreas transplants are not as frequently performed as kidney transplants so the waiting time is usually just a few months.

Nebraska Medicine’s pancreas and kidney/pancreas transplant program is one of the largest and most experienced programs in the Midwest. The program was started in 1989 when pancreas transplantation was still very new. Today, it is among the most active and pioneering programs in the world. Our transplant center became the fifth center in the world to perform more than 200 pancreas-only transplants and consistently ranks within the top five centers for performing adult pancreas transplants.

“We are committed to our patients,” says Dr. Maskin. “We follow our patients for life and are actively involved in their care.”

To learn more, make a referral or connect with a member of pancreas transplant team call 800-401-4444 or visit us online at nebraskamed.com/transplant.

The Nebraska Medical Center, UNMC Physicians and Bellevue Medical Center now Nebraska Medicine

UNMC will remain separate entity but will share new logo for closer alignment

The Nebraska Medical Center, Bellevue Medical Center and UNMC Physicians – once three separate but interconnected organizations – are now one operating under one name: Nebraska Medicine.

Nebraska Medicine will continue to deliver the same familiar promise of “Serious Medicine. Extraordinary Care,” and will provide it to all of its patients wherever they may need it, whether it’s at their doctors’ office, a hospital, or an outpatient facility in Omaha, Bellevue, Plattsmouth or elsewhere throughout the region.

The newly integrated organization, which includes more than 6,100 employees, allows Nebraska Medicine to strengthen its services by expanding collaboration among its partners and providing patients with increased access to approximately 1,100 physicians and 678 licensed hospital beds as well as 39 ambulatory clinics in Omaha and the surrounding area.

Nebraska Medicine will continue to serve as the primary clinical teaching partner for the University of Nebraska Medical Center and its health sciences programs. UNMC, with about 4,700 employees, will remain a separate entity from Nebraska Medicine, but will share a new logo to more closely align the two organizations.

The three entities have been moving toward becoming one, clinically integrated organization for more than two years. Patients will now receive billing, communication and care in a more unified manner from Nebraska Medicine rather than from multiple organizations.

“This transition not only makes our organization stronger, but it also improves our patients’ experiences, through better coordination of care and more efficient access for our patients, among many other improvements,” said Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., UNMC chancellor and chairman of the Nebraska Medicine Advisory Board. “This integrated organization will gain increased national recognition as we transform lives to create a healthy future through extraordinary care, remarkable discovery and relevant learning.”

It also allows Nebraska Medicine to increase its scope of services by benefitting from each of the distinctly different capabilities of each of the individual organizations, Dr. Gold said.

“While we have a new name, we want to assure everyone this is still ‘the med center,’” said Bill Dinsmoor, CEO of Nebraska Medicine. “It retains the best of the founding organizations, while allowing us to provide the type of coordinated care that will be critical in a time of profound change in health care.”

A new name and logo is reflective of the organization’s more comprehensive level of services and also leans on the legacy of the individual entities that comprise it, Dinsmoor said.

The logo, or “emblem” – a shield featuring a subtle red “N” in the upper right corner – provides a visual representation of both organizations’ deep Nebraska roots and their shared mission to improve the human condition. Three white parallelograms around the N represent the education, research and patient care missions that were reflected previously in UNMC Physicians’ “ring” logo.

The shield is a symbol that The Nebraska Medical Center, Bellevue Medical Center and UNMC each used in their previous brands. It symbolizes leadership, courage and protection, Dr. Gold said.

“Today is a celebration of our transition into a single clinical enterprise that ultimately will better serve our patients,” said Bradley Britigan, M.D., president of Nebraska Medicine and dean of the UNMC College of Medicine. “It represents the next stage of a strong Nebraska health care organization known for its excellence, innovation and quality patient care, as well as its cutting-edge internationally recognized medical research and its education of the majority of Nebraska health care providers.”

“It allows us to unite all our employees under a new identity,” Dinsmoor said. “The name reflects that we are more than a single hospital location or a collection of clinics – that we are a health care provider that extends across the region and into your neighborhood.”

Dinsmoor said the hospitals have more than 25,000 discharges annually, and the clinic staff sees more than 500,000 patient visits yearly.

While Nebraska Medicine will adopt the “Serious Medicine. Extraordinary Care” tagline used by The Nebraska Medical Center, UNMC will retain its “Breakthroughs for Life” tagline.

“The taglines reflect the mission of each enterprise,” Dr. Britigan said. “Given the exceptionally strong public recognition and resonance that already exists with these taglines, it made perfect sense to continue to use them.”

Changes to signs across campus will start immediately and will continue in the near future to ensure that the new brand is visible for both employees and patients. Many signs on campus will feature the shared logo and the names Nebraska Medicine and UNMC.

Specific locations will be identified individually with the new logo, for example: Nebraska Medicine – Nebraska Medical Center; Nebraska Medicine – Bellevue; Nebraska Medicine – Village Pointe; Nebraska Medicine – Eagle Run.

“This is an investment in the future of our organization that must be made considering our role as a leading academic medical center and the evolving health care market that exists in the region,” Dr. Gold said.

Answered prayers

My nephew has a new kidney!

Jeffery Spellman, the young man I told you about earlier this year, has a beautiful new, fully functioning kidney as of June 2.

We are grateful and indebted to the incredible generosity of an unknown donor and their family and will always be praying for them.


Lisa Spellman and her nephew, Jeffery

They will never know the magnitude of this gift.

But we do. I do. And so do total strangers to whom I have spontaneously blurted out the good news.

“My nephew just got a kidney transplant and it’s working perfectly!”

The looks of surprise quickly turn into smiles and hearty congratulations.

Happiness is definitely infectious.

We have a lot to be happy about. And the transplant team couldn’t be happier with how perfectly matched the donor kidney is to Jeffery. You can’t get better than 100 percent, with zero antigens.

Jeffery had 99 out of 100 antigens and finding that one person whom he would be compatible with, well, it took two years. For others, the wait is much longer.

This transplant was definitely orchestrated by a higher power.

Jeffery should have waited 10 years for a kidney, his transplant surgeon, Alexander Maskin, M.D., told us.

The best part was when he said the kidney began producing urine immediately. It’s as if it woke up the moment it touched Jeffery’s body.

As for the surgery, which we were sure would last well into the night, it only lasted two hours and 39 minutes.

We were amazed by how quickly things went.

Dr. Maskin seemed to think it took longer than the usual hour procedure.

“He was a very difficult transplant,” he said explaining the length of time to Jeffery’s wife Ashleigh and other family members in the waiting room that night.

As Dr. Maskin explained the surgery he spoke of a potentially fatal infection that he discovered in Jeffery’s bladder that would have destroyed the new kidney.

Someone was definitely looking out for Jeffery and his precious new kidney.

Jeffery will be just fine.

And I can breathe again.