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    July/August 2010  

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Terry Green Named Emory Healthcare 500 Marshal

Our heart transplant team was thrilled when they learned Aug. 26 that Emory and Atlanta Motor Speedway officials had chosen Terry "Mr. 500" Green, a heart transplant recipient, as the perfect candidate for grand marshal of this year's Emory Healthcare 500 Sprint Cup Series race on Labor Day weekend.

It's hard to miss Green's nickname. He earned it more than two years ago when he became our 500th heart transplant recipient in March 2008. To make matters more fun, he also was born at Emory Hospital almost 61 years to the day before he received his transplant. So he's one of the few—if not the only one—who can say he was born twice in the same hospital and mean it.

Terry "Mr. 500" Green"It was a very special feeling to have a new chance at life because of my heart transplant, and the fact that I was also the 500th person to receive a new heart at Emory was extra special," says Green, who is a fifth generation Gwinnett County native. "To be named the grand marshal for the Emory Healthcare 500, an event that is such an incredible show, and means so much to Georgia and the Atlanta metropolitan area each year, is beyond a special surprise—it is an honor. I am so excited to see my first race in person, and I will forever carry with me the memory by being a part of such a special event."

Even though he has never seen a NASCAR race in person, Green is a fan, particularly of car number 29, which belongs to Kevin Harvick. Green has been following the racing legend's career since winning a scale model vehicle of Harvick's car at a local dealership.

Emory Healthcare pace carJoin Mr. 500 and see our new pace car start the race on Sun., Sept. 5, at 7:30 p.m. Employees can purchase front stretch tickets for only $59 (normally $95).To buy tickets, click here and enter the promo code: Atlanta. See you there!



Kevin Clark
Kevin Clark


Kevin Clark to Direct Transplant Center Administration

Join us in welcoming Kevin Clark on his first day as the Transplant Center's new senior adminstrator at a bagel and coffee reception on Wed., Sept. 1, 8 to 9 a.m., in room B-6425.

In this administrative role, Clark will develop The Emory Clinic's transplant section faculty practice plan and Emory Hospital’s transplant service line. He will be responsible for the Transplant Center's financial accounts with the School of Medicine and the office of the executive vice president.

Clark was clinic administrator for operations for the internal medicine sections of digestive diseases, pulmonary medicine, rheumatology, endocrinology, and nephrology. He served in this role since 2005 and has extensive experience in developing a variety of clinical and academic units. He has an MHA and an MBA from the University of Alabama, Birmingham and an undergraduate degree in healthcare management from the University of Alabama.

Kevin is married; his wife, Melanie, is an Emory Clinic patient ambassador. They live in the Decatur-Emory area.

Kevin succeeds Heather Hamby, who has served as the Transplant Center's administrative leader since our inception in 2000. After a transition period, Hamby will focus on her role as executive administrator for the department of surgery and for surgical services at Emory Healthcare.


Stuart Knechtle, MD
Stuart Knechtle, MD


Knechtle Named Chief at Children's

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta recently named Dr. Stuart Knechtle as chief of pediatric liver transplant surgery, surgical director of the liver transplant program and the Carlos and Marguerite Mason Chair for Liver Transplant Surgery. The appointment was effective July 1.

"Dr. Knechtle’s leading-edge surgical, research and teaching skills have earned him acclaim and respect throughout the medical community," said Amy Hauser, service line administrator for transplant services at Children’s. "His combination of talents will allow Children’s and Emory to stay at the forefront of transplant research, specifically in transplant immunology. We are thrilled to officially welcome him to the Children’s transplant family."

Dr. Knechtle continues to serve as clinical director of the Emory Transplant Center and chief of the division of transplantation and professor of surgery at the School of Medicine.

A leader in the field of liver and kidney transplantation, Dr. Knechtle has designed and led a variety of clinical trials in organ transplantation. He operated a NIH-funded research lab for 17 years and continues research focused on the immunologic mechanisms of transplant rejection and immunologic tolerance. He came to Emory two years ago from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was on the faculty for nearly two decades.

Dr. Knechtle earned his medical degree from Cornell University and completed both his residency and transplant immunology research fellowship at Duke University Medical Center. He completed a transplantation fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Hospital Department of Surgery.

Children's liver transplant program was established in 1990.

Ryan Ford, MD
Ryan Ford, MD

Ford Joins Faculty as Assistant Professor

Dr. Ryan Ford, the first fellow to complete the year-old, ACME-accredited Emory transplant hepatology fellowship program, joined the ETC in July as an assistant professor of medicine. He is working with the transplant hepatologists and surgeons in the liver transplant program.

"I am rotating on the inpatient service eight to 10 weeks a year, covering the liver transplant inpatients and general hepatology consults during that time," he notes. He treats liver disease patients in the general hepatology clinic and in the outpatient transplant clinic before and after transplantation.

In addition, he performs two half-day sessions a week of colonoscopy, small bowel endoscopy, esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), and enteroscopy (small bowel biopsy). "I welcome any referrals for such procedures," Dr. Ford continues. "I am eager to continue teaching fellows, residents, students, and mid-levels. I have an Emory medical degree and completed my medical residency and fellowship here, so my goal is to continue to help make the ETC one of the best places in the country for liver disease patients to receive care."


Joan and Dean Holcomb
Joan and Dean Holcomb


In Memoriam

Joan Bray Holcomb, 57, a dear friend to many of us here at Emory, passed away on July 28 after an extreme allergic reaction to a bee sting. She was the HLA lab supervisor for more than 20 years. Dr. Howard Gebel, co-director of the lab, told the Lakeside News, "Joan loved her work and excelled at every aspect of her job. Her enthusiasm was contagious."

She is survived by her husband, Dean Holcomb.

Holcomb lived in Flowery Branch and was an avid sailor, serving as the commodore of the Barefoot Sailing Club in 1994 and of the Lake Lanier Sailing Club in 2002. On the day Holcomb died, the Atlanta Inland Sailing Club cancelled its races as a tribute to their fellow sailor and friend. Holcomb also was an active member of Flowery Branch United Methodist Church and served as the church's organist. In lieu of flowers, her husband asked that donations be made to the church, 5212 Spring Street, Flowery Branch, GA, 30542.


2010 Transplant PowerNote Update

On July 1, 2009 the abdominal transplant services on 7G began documenting PowerNote progress notes online in EeMR. Within the first 12 months of implementation the kidney and liver transplant clinicians wrote 8,055 PowerNotes progress notes, averaging 672 notes per month. Various procedure notes were also designed and implemented (e.g., renal allograft and liver biopsies, hemodialysis, thoracentesis, and paracentesis procedures; there is also a note for immunosuppression management). Discharge summaries are in preliminary stages of rolling out on 7G.

Design efforts continued into this year. Providers developed PowerNote transplant operative notes, which kidney and pancreas transplant surgeon Dr. Nicole Turgeon has championed both in design and utilization. "PowerNotes provides a clear and concise way to communicate patient information through daily progress notes, clinic notes and discharge summaries to not only Emory providers but also our referral community," she reports.

With the transplant providers leading the way, there are now clinical nutrition, physical therapy, and transplant pharmacist PowerNotes on 7G, as well as on other inpatient units. And, with the upcoming rollout of the OTTR/EeMR migration project for post-transplant clinical documentation, the teams are in the throes of design again—this time for the outpatient arena. Renal, liver and lung post-transplant visit follow-up PowerNotes are currently being developed to support the transition of physician documentation from OTTR to EeMR.

Stay tuned for more about the OTTR/EeMR migration project and continued electronic documentation initiatives in the weeks to come.

Donate Life America

Flying Flags Across America

Emory is a participating hospital in Donate Life America's Flags Across America (FAA) program. More than 6,600 Donate Life flags are now flying from hospitals, buildings, houses, gardens and cars in support of organ, eye and tissue donation and in honor of our nation’s donors.

Donate Life flag at EUH"We fly the flag at Emory Hospital when an organ donation takes place," says Jo-Ann House, ETC program coordinator. ”It is a wonderful way to communicate to the Emory community that an organ donation is occurring and to honor the donor or donor family.” Emory presents a smaller version of the donor flag to the donor or donor family as a token of appreciation.

PFAC logo

PFAC Elects New Leaders

The Transplant Center's Patient Family Advisory Council (PFAC) recently elected new officers, who will spearhead the group's activities this academic year, 2010-2011. The officers are transplant patients or family members of patients who have received care at Emory, so you'll probably recognize a few faces when you see them around Emory. Dorinda McCauley (liver recipient) is chair of the council, Ken Sutha (kidney recipient) is vice chair and Rose Couey (mother of a heart recipient) is secretary.

"The transition to patient and family leadership is an important milestone in the development of the council being a true collaboration between the ETC and the PFAC on program and policy issues," says Cynthia Devroy, who is the transplant center’s administrator of clinic operations and, along with Wendy Wyche, the center's chaplain, is staff liaison to the council.

This year, the council also added new members Robin Defoe (liver recipient), Kirk (liver recipient) and Shannon Franz (his wife), Beth Johnson (wife of a lung recipient), Oliver Tousey Wilson (liver recipient), Sara "Beth" Kasulaitis (liver recipient), and Cheryl Thomas (kidney donor). They join incumbent council members Christy Cook (kidney recipient), Jayne Henderson (lung recipient), Cornisha Matthews (heart recipient), James "Curtis" McGill (liver recipient), Alice Koone (lung recipient), Joe Persichetti (heart recipient), and staff representatives Robin Small (outpatient clinic) and Holli Paulk (McKelvey lung program).

The officers and members of the council partner with staff and faculty to provide a crucial service to Emory, helping us improve our policies and enhance the care transplant patients and donors and their families receive. Some of their many accomplishments last year include serving as advisors to the ETC’s service steering committee, driving the development of a donor letter-writing policy and practice, helping create a tool kit with resources for kidney patients to assist them in letting their friends and family know about living kidney donation and how they could be tested as a donor, and coordinating a photo bulletin board of staff in the outpatient clinic. This year, a recent brainstorming session has identified potential project areas to address—in large or small ways—communication, billing, support groups, and the website to name a few.

"We are very grateful to the PFAC for their contributions to the transplant center," Devroy notes. "They are a dedicated group. I have told them several times that outside of the projects and feedback, for me personally, they provide the context or purpose in which I frame my daily administrative work. And, of course, we do have a lot a fun along the way!"


Ken Sutha
Ken Sutha


Winning Transplant Gold

Eighteen Team Georgia athletes returned home Aug. 3 from the 2010 National Kidney Foundation (NKF) U.S. Transplant Games in Madison, WI with 11 medals and a lifetime of memories. One of those athletes was Ken Sutha, 28, who received a living donor kidney transplant at Emory in 2006.

Since his life-changing transplant—his father was his donor—Sutha has gone from a nonathlete to a world-class swimmer, practicing most days after class at Georgia Tech, where he is in the joint Emory and Tech MD/PhD program. At the Games, he competed in the 100-yard individual medley and 50-yard butterfly, for which he received gold medals, the 100-yard backstroke, for which he received a silver medal, and the 500-yard freestyle events. "But my favorite part of the Games was meeting other recipients, living donors, and donor families," Sutha says. His dad was there as his best cheerleader.

Team Georgia's athletes included seven adult recipients and one donor from Emory, three recipients from Children's, three recipients and one donor from Piedmont Hospital, one recipient from Saint Joseph's Hospital, and one recipient and one donor from the Medical College of Georgia.

"One of our Emory recipients, Sherrell Gay, celebrated her eighth anniversary of her heart transplant at the closing ceremony on Tues., Aug. 3," Sutha continues. "She competed in table tennis this year."

In addition to swimming, Sutha participates in "sprint" triathlons (750m swim, 20km bike ride and 5km run) to keep in shape. His last sprint was at the Rock 'N RollMan Triathlon in June in Macon, GA.

The NKF U.S. Transplant Games are held biennially on even years. The World Transplant Games are held outside the U.S. on odd years.

Team Georgia 2010Team Georgia #2

Team Georgia in Madison, Aug. 2010




Joe and Judy Stott
Joe and Judy Stott with their bronze medals


Dancing With the Stars at the Games

Joe Stott, 65, holding his wife Judy close to his transplanted heart, waltzed his way to a bronze medal at the U.S. Transplant Games. "It was a particularly meaningful event for us," Stott says. "We first met at a square dancing club before we married in 1988 and danced to the Ann Murray waltz, 'Could I Have This Dance?' We used this song at the Games and wore the same outfits we had on in a 1999 LifeLink of Georgia calendar photo." Their waltz scored only two points less than the gold medal winners.

Stott, who received his heart at Emory nearly 14 years ago, and his wife participated in the ballroom dancing demonstration event as members of Team Georgia. Ballroom dancing will become an official event at the Games in 2012. This was Stott's eighth Transplant Games—seven in the U.S. and one World Games—since 1998. He also participated this year in singles bowling (4th place) and doubles bowling with kidney transplant recipient Stephanie Rary from Medical College of Georgia.

Stott's favorite event at every Games is the opening ceremony. "The recipients march in state by state. But when the living donors and donor families start marching in next, we stand and applaud until every last donor family member is seated in the auditorium or stadium," he says.

An active volunteer for the Georgia Transplant Foundation, LifeLink and other transplant organizations, Stott has a special place in his heart for donor families, keeping in touch with his donor's family and letting them know how he does at his events. "I also 'adopt' donor families who haven't been contacted by their organ recipients—they especially like to hear from heart transplant recipients who are doing well. I adopted three families this year, bringing my total to eight," he says. At the World Games in 2005, he was the only recipient to request that his donor's name, Bryan, be put on the back of his gold and silver medals.

The 18 Team Georgia athletes probably would agree: Joe Stott is more than just an athlete participating in Olympic-style events. He's an ambassador of transplant donation.

Joe & Judy Stott waltzingballroom dancing medalists

The Stotts waltz at the Games and stand on the podium with their fellow medalists


Terri Willis with KFC
Terri Willis enjoys her first KFC


Celebrating 19 Years and Counting

Terri Willis' liver, a.k.a. Starla, is a teenager. Or so she says. Starla acts up occasionally, but has served her very well over the years.

Willis, 32, celebrated the 19th anniversary of her liver transplant on July 2, which could make her one of Emory's transplant legends.
Willis has a genetic disorder, tyrosinemia, which causes her body to inappropriately break down the amino acid, tyrosine. When this amino acid and other byproducts build up in the tissues and organs, it can lead to nosebleeds, problems with the central nervous system, liver and kidney failure, and liver cancer.

"My doctor was Dr. Louis Elsas [the former Emory geneticist who developed many genetic tests for newborns], who used me as a guinea pig to learn more about the disease—I was only the second person in the country diagnosed with tyrosinemia," she remembers. "I was on a strict diet. I had to drink a special formula and take lots of medications."

When she was 12, she was diagnosed with liver cancer as a result of the tyrosinemia. "You couldn't tell on the outside that anything was wrong. I went to school, participated in P.E. and did the things that kids do," she continues. "I waited at home for my liver and my mom had a pager. My skin was gray and pale and I would get tired easily sometimes." Her mother, Jane Hollon, moved her family from Florida to Georgia to be close to Children's for the transplant, which Terri received during the summer between her sixth and seventh grade years in middle school.

Her surgeon was Dr. Thomas Dodson, a vascular surgeon at Emory who established the pediatric liver transplant program at Children's in 1990. (He is no longer performing transplants.) When he first saw her liver during the transplant, it was "riddled with cancer inside and out but had not spread to my other organs," she says. It was a miracle she received a donor organ when she did; she wouldn't have survived if she hadn't. "Dr. Dodson called me his star patient, which is why I named my liver Starla."

He also asked her what her greatest wish was. She replied that she really wanted Kentucky Fried Chicken, which her mom brought her a week after the transplant (see photo at left).

Willis recently returned to Emory for a check-up, and her report was very good. Her system still shows a few signs of tyrosinemia, but the effects are very mild. Willis keeps busy caring for her three dogs and as a volunteer in a local hospital's rehabilitation center. She also runs to stay in shape. Although she didn't participate in this year's Transplant Games because of several health issues, she has competed in five U.S. Games over 10 years. She has 11 track medals, including four gold medals. She often gives the medals away to donor families, including one she gave to Dr. Dodson (see photo below). Her favorite event was the 2007 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.

Perhaps Willis' greatest accomplishment is her optimistic attitude and enthusiasm about the success of transplantation that she shares with everyone she meets.

...more from Willis' blog

Terri Willis w/Transplant Games medalDr. Tom Dodson with Terri Willis

Willis pictured with one of her Games medals and with Dr. Tom Dodson


Tyrone Brown
Tyrone Brown

Raja Laskar, MD
Raja Laskar, MD


With Gratitude to the Heart Transplant Team

Dorothy Brown recently wrote a wonderful letter to cardiologist Dr. Raja Laskar and the heart transplant team, thanking them for the care her husband received over the years. Her husband, Tyrone Brown, was a heart transplant patient since 2007. He had received cardiac care at Emory for a total of 14 years until his death in March.

"The entire transplant team always displayed love and compassion to my husband," Brown writes. "Tyrone expressed his trust and loyalty to the EUH heart transplant team. He couldn't have had better doctors, transplant coordinators, nurses, or other medical professionals to be a part of his life during the duration of his illness."

"Tyrone Brown initially did very well post-transplant and then developed an unexpected complication that subsequently led to other complications," says heart transplant coordinator Neile Chesnut. "He was very well known among the staff and he was probably best known for his incredibly positive attitude. He faced each new challenge the same way, always positive and willing to do whatever it was that we recommended to try and make him well. He was a kind, soft-spoken, positive man and he genuinely touched everyone with whom he came in contact. That was true here at Emory and, I imagine, true of his life in general."

And it was true in general. Brown was a deacon at Brown Chapel Baptist Church, chairman of the deaconate, superintendent of the Sunday school and a member of the church's finance committee. He worked many years at Macon County Board of Education, West Central Georgia Community Action Agency, Americus Probation Office, and Taylor County DFCS before his retirement. The Browns have two children and one grandson.

...Dorothy Brown's letter


Chris Larsen, MD
Chris Larsen, MD


Recent ETC Publications

Here are some recent articles published by ETC faculty and staff:

  • Dr. Christian Larsen, director of the ETC, is one of the authors on a new paper published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. The article outlined an extension of a phase II study of belatacept, a first-in-class co-stimulation blocker that is awaiting FDA approval for primary maintenance immunosuppression. The study extension showed the long-term safety and efficacy of belatacept for the prevention of acute rejection and protection of renal function in kidney transplant recipients.

According to Dr. Larsen, "This study demonstrated high patient persistence with intravenous belatacept, stable renal function, predictable pharmacokinetics, and good safety with belatacept over five years. These are the kind of results the FDA wants to see before approving the drug for use."

  • Wanda Allison, nurse manager, liver transplant clinical operations and services, was one of the authors of an article in the September issue of the journal, Critical Care Nursing Clinics of North America. The article, "Liver Transplantation Considerations for Evaluation, CTP and MELD," examines the multidisciplinary process of liver transplantation. It discusses why there is a disparity between centers on listing wait times. It also compares how to determine patients' candidacy for transplantation and when to list them using the Child-Turcotte-Pugh (CTP) score for severity of liver disease versus the latest standard, the Model for End Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score, which has more variables.

...more about Dr. Larsen's study


Terri Eubanks
Terri Eubanks

Donnette Grant
Donnette Grant






New Employees

The ETC welcomes these new employees:

  • Lisa Arasi joined the ETC on July 12 as a new abdominal transplant nurse practitioner at Children's.
  • Terri Eubanks is a new research coordinator for the research nursing team.

  • Donnette Grant joined the ETC earlier this year as a lung transplant social worker.
  • Jennifer Launse came on board in June as a liver transplant social worker.
  • Mary Louise Moore is a new administrative assistant at The Emory Clinic in the kidney transplant program. Formerly, she worked at Kaiser Permanente, Cerner and United Healthcare, and her experience will be an asset to the team.

Jennifer LaunseMary Louise Moore

Jennifer Launse and Mary Louise Moore


Allyson Ross
Allyson Ross

Dhuha Rasool
Dhuha Rasool


Welcome, New Babies

Sheilicia Reese-Ross, pulmonary hypertension coordinator, and her husband, Allen, have a new baby, Allyson Ross. She was born on July 10 and weighed 8 pounds, 9 ounces.

Dr. Wasim Dar, a fellow with the abdominal transplant program, and his wife, Natasha Bashir, welcomed the birth of a baby girl, Dhuha Wasim Rasool on Aug. 14. She was 7 pounds, 8 ounces.

On July 8, transplant nephrologist Dr. Sharon Graves, gave birth to a baby girl, Catherine Someren, at 8 pounds, 14 ounces. Her husband is Dr. Jim Someren, who is also an Emory nephrologist.

Melissa Owen, heart transplant coordinator, and her husband, Nate, welcomed the birth of a baby boy, Elijah Scott Owen, on May 9. He weighed 7 pounds, 1 ounce.

Congratulations, new parents!

Catherine SomerenElijah Scott Owen

Catherine Someren and Elijah Scott Owen


Emory University Hospital


Summer and Fall Calendar

Below are several educational opportunities and community activities for faculty and staff at Emory:

topic/event date & time place
Emory Healthcare 500 Sprint Cup Series
Sept. 5, 7:30 pm
Atlanta Motor Speedway
Gut Apoptosis & Sepsis with Dr. Craig Coopersmith (surgery grand rounds)
Sept. 22, 7 am
EUH auditorium
3rd Annual Southeast Regional Transplant Symposium
Oct. 8-10
Hilton Head Marriott
American Liver Foundation's Liver Life Walk
Oct. 9
Stone Mtn. Park

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk to Cure Diabetes

Oct. 16 & 17

Centennial Olympic Park & Johns Creek Tech Park

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