Fifty livers in two years: UMMC transplant program thriving

Fifty livers in two years: UMMC transplant program thriving

When Utica resident Dennis Mitchell received a new liver April 14 at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, it greatly improved his chances of enjoying a normal life. 

It also marked a huge milestone for the Medical Center. Mitchell received the 50th liver since the 2013 jump-starting of UMMC's long-dormant liver transplant program. 

His procedure was a proud undertaking for his surgeons, Dr. Mark Earl and Lucedale native Dr. Christopher Anderson, who was recruited to UMMC in August 2011 with a mission: Bring back the liver transplant program following a 20-year hiatus, and build an abdominal transplant team to keep that momentum going. 

"We're doing world-class transplants in terms of complexity. We've built the team and support staff to do it here," said Earl, assistant professor of surgery and one of Anderson's 2012 recruits. The East Texas native formerly was an abdominal transplant surgeon at Oregon Health and Science University and had trained with Anderson for a decade before that. 

"New transplant programs don't come up very often, especially for liver. They struggle to do what we're doing. The majority wouldn't even consider tackling what we've done," Earl said. "We're pleased, but we still have a lot of growth to come." 

That first liver recipient, on March 5, 2013, was south Jackson resident Karen Battle. Like many who followed her, the 38-year-old is honoring her second chance at life after living with crippling autoimmune hepatitis.

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Newborn screening for heart defects becomes mandatory

About nine of every 1,000 babies born each year have a congenital heart defect. Of those, about 25 percent have a critical congenital heart defect, which is the leading cause of infant deaths in the United States. To avoid severe symptoms, disability, or even death, these babies need the expertise of a health-care specialist within a few days after birth. 

Because of this urgency, the Mississippi State Department of Health recently added pulse oximetry testing for critical congenital heart defects (CCHD) to the state's mandatory newborn screening panel. 

"Of all the things we screen for, it makes sense to screen for heart disease because it's the most common congenital problem that you can be born with," said Dr. Mary Taylor, professor of pediatrics and chief of the Divisions of Pediatric Critical Care and Pediatric Cardiology. 

The University of Mississippi Medical Center has been running the pulse oximetry, or pulse ox, screen on newborns since 2012.

The inexpensive, non-invasive test uses sensors placed on a newborn's hand and foot to measure the percentage of hemoglobin in blood saturated with oxygen. Low levels indicate the baby may have a CCHD and alert the health-care team to run additional tests, conclusively identifying or ruling out a defect.

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Newborn screening for heart defects becomes mandatory

UMMC grad returns to give distinguished lecture

UMMC grad returns to give distinguished lecture

One of the University of Mississippi Medical Center's brightest scientists returned to his alma mater to present his recent research at one of the school's most prestigious lectureships on Wednesday. 

The Arthur C. Guyton Distinguished Research Lecture - named after the former chair of the Department of Physiology and one of UMMC's most prolific scholars and mentors - is reserved for the most distinguished physiologists and contributors to medicine, said Dr. John Hall, the Arthur C. Guyton Professor and chair of physiology and biophysics. 

Dr. D. Neil Granger, a 1977 UMMC graduate, was chosen as the 2015 distinguished lecturer because of his research in various fields, including ischemia reperfusion injuries, a form of tissue damage that can occur during a stroke. 

"He's published more than 600 papers, more than 100 book chapters and seven books," said Hall. "His research papers have been cited more than 57,000 times. 

"But it would be fair to say the contribution he's most proud of is his mentoring of young investigators," Hall said, adding that Granger has mentored more than 60 post-doctoral fellows during his career. 

He is one of three Granger siblings to graduate from UMMC, including Dr. Joey Granger, the current dean of the School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences, said Hall. 

"I'm very pleased to be here on this day, one where we recognize Dr. Arthur Guyton," said Neil Granger, who during his studies at UMMC learned under Dr. Aubrey Taylor, one of Guyton's research assistants. "It was a privilege to be trained here. I have many fond memories of the days I spent here as a grad student." 

Granger's latest research focuses on the brain's smaller blood vessels' response to focal ischemia, a restriction of blood supply to tissue that deprives it of oxygen. He noted the specific field is one research publications have increasingly taken notice of over the last several decades. 

One area of his research, he said, is looking at various risk factors - including high cholesterol, hypertension, obesity and smoking - to see how different combinations can have an impact on a patient. 

"I think this is a very fruitful area for further research because again, most patients who are subjected to an ischemic episode do not have a single risk factor. They have multiple risk factors," said Neil Granger. 

Currently serving as the Boyd Professor and head of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Louisiana, Granger became the seventh Guyton Distinguished Lecturer in the history of the series.  The last distinguished lecturer was Dr. Jeffrey Friedman from Rockefeller University in New York City in 2011.

Granger also is the first UMMC alumnus to receive the honor that was first awarded in 1999.

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Telehealth center, M4s garner distinctions

The UMMC Center for Telehealth received a national award while the Mississippi Chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society added several UMMC students to its roll.

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Telehealth center, M4s garner distinctions
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