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Campus gains new abdominal organ transplant center

by Jill Sifflard

At the ribbon cutting ceremony, from left: Kevin Anthoney, Issa Family Foundation representative; Mary Sepeda, Ray Sepeda Family Trust representative; Rick Selby, director of the Center for Abdominal Organ Transplantation and chief of hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgery; and donors Phil and Margareth Arst and Owen Lin.

� Lee Salem Photography

More than 200 patients, family members, physicians and Keck School of Medicine officials attended the dedication of the new USC Center for Abdominal Organ Transplantation on April 2 at USC University Hospital.

The event, held on the recently remodeled second floor of the Healthcare Consultation Center I, included a private ceremony for patients and their families who dedicated four of the patient examination rooms in honor of their loved ones, along with a reception for abdominal organ transplant and surgery survivors.

The new USC Center for Abdominal Organ Transplantation, the fourth largest adult live-donor liver transplantation program in the United States, now seeks the resources necessary to expand on educational opportunities, basic research, clinical trials and translational research.

The patient examination rooms were dedicated by the following donors: the Philip and Margareth Arst family, the Issa Family Foundation, Joan and Owen Lin, and Mary Ruth Sepeda and the Ray Sepeda Family Trust.

All donations to the center will be used to further vital research in abdominal organ transplantation and surgery. Major donors are listed on the center’s new “Wall of Honor,” which was unveiled at the conclusion of the dedication ceremony.

Rick Selby, director of the abdominal organ transplant program and chief of hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgery, hosted the ceremony, sharing his vision for the transplant center.

“The new center integrates all parts of our transplant program—surgeons, hepatologists, hematologists, coordinators, financial services, dieticians and social workers—in one location to care for patients in one convenient setting,” he said.

The USC Center for Abdominal Organ Transplantation was designed as a multi-disciplinary clinic—allowing liver, kidney and pancreas transplant candidates, as well as non-transplant liver and pancreas surgery patients to be comprehensively evaluated during a single visit in one location.

Previously, patients would have to travel to as many as five locations for evaluation.

“Creating a central core of medical, administrative and specialty services achieves efficient synergy for treatment planning and delivery,” Selby added.

The center has added a liver cancer program, hepatology and transplant nephrology to its list of services. Research also will play a larger role at the center.

Selby explained, “One of our clinical goals during the next two to three years is to identify ways to reduce immunosuppression challenges in transplant patients. This is where we see the most problems after transplantation.”

Tom DeMeester, the Jeffrey P. Smith Chair of the Department of Surgery, explained the link between patient care and research efforts. “We have a great transplant program and now the great beginnings of a research program that will help bring new advances to the bedside,” he said.

For Jeffry Huffman, associate senior vice president for medical care and president, CEO and medical director of USC Care Medical Group, Inc., the opening of the new center represents another key milestone in the current expansion of the USC Health Science Campus.

“The opening of the new HCC II, the nearly completed Norris Inpatient Tower at USC University Hospital, along with the soon-to-be-built Harlyne Norris Research Tower marks a new era for patients cared for at USC,” Huffman said. “This expanded Abdominal Organ Transplantation Center complements the efforts we are making to give Southern California patients—and even patients nationwide—direct access to some of the latest treatments.”

At the reception, two of the center’s patients shared their personal experiences.

In 1996. Benigna Carillo was the hospital’s first liver transplant patient.

“I thank God each and every day for the new life the surgeons at USC University Hospital gave me almost ten years ago,” she said. “I’ve spent so much time with them, they feel like part of my family.”

Another grateful patient, Cary Brooks, echoed Carillo’s sentiments. “Upon diagnosis, my doctors at UCLA told me to go home and get my affairs in order,” Brooks said. “After doing my homework, I realized that there was another program in town that literally saved my life.”

“This dedication is for you (patients),” said Tse-Ling Fong, medical director of the USC Liver Transplantation Program and associate professor of medicine. “Without these special patients, we wouldn’t have such a great program.”

Campus gains new abdominal organ transplant center

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