Academic Health Center
Stay Connected

In The News: Kersey remembered as bone marrow transplant pioneer

When John Kersey was honored Tuesday night at the University of Minnesota, those in attendance remembered one thing in particular about the late doctor — his pioneering spirit.

David Stahl, who Kersey gave the first bone-marrow transplant in the world in 1975, credited Kersey with saving his life. At the time of treatment, Stahl had been suffering from malignant lymphoma.

“If it wasn’t for Dr. Kersey, I wouldn’t be here,” Stahl told the Star Tribune. “He was the one who said, ‘This is your one option. Let’s try this.’ Other people could have said, ‘We have no help for you.’ ”

Read more

In the News: Twin Cities man undergoes successful and rare third organ transplant at U of M

Otteau Christiansen’s leukemia was already in an advanced phase when he received a bone marrow transplant in 1981. Nobody had ever survived the operation so late into treatment, but Christiansen is living proof that the odds can be overcome.

Read more

Game Changer: Gabe Loor

April is National Donate Life Month, which urges Americans to become organ donors and potentially play a part in saving a life. Gabe Loor, a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon at University of Minnesota Medical School, is a key cog in improving the transplantation process by helping to develop more effective surgical methods.

Read more

Midwest’s first breathing lung transplant performed at University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview

A team of University of Minnesota cardiothoracic transplant experts have performed the Midwest’s first “breathing lung” transplant, an innovative surgical approach that utilizes technology capable of keeping donated lungs warm and breathing during transportation, keeping them healthier prior to transplant.

Video and full story after the jump.

Read more

Can submarine technology transform islet transplantation?

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the Fall 2013 edition of the University of Minnesota Foundation e-publication Discoveries in Diabetes and was written by Karin Miller.

Research collaborators working with the University of Minnesota and University of Arizona embarked on a unique experiment in August. A donor pancreas, chaperoned by a graduate student, was flown by commercial jet from Minneapolis to Tucson, Arizona. The goal: to see if a new organ preservation technique could extend the life of the donor pancreas. It did.

Generally, a donor pancreas must get from its origination city to its destination—sometimes across the country—in just eight hours to be suitable for transplantation. After that, the organ has spent too much time without oxygen to be used. But a new oxygen preservation technology developed by U adjunct professor Klearchos Papas, Ph.D., in collaboration with Giner Inc., would extend the life of this organ up to 24 hours.

With this technology, Papas estimates that the percentage of usable pancreas organs could jump from 42 percent to 60 or 70 percent. The better-preserved pancreases will result in higher quality islet cells as well, he says, increasing the number of people who could become insulin independent with a first pancreas transplant.

But because the donor organ supply is inadequate to meet current demands, Papas and U imaging expert Mike Garwood, Ph.D., are working towards the goal of creating an artificial, implantable pancreas, where human, pig, or stem cell islets could be implanted and protected, meeting the needs of people with type 1 diabetes. This work is championed by the Schott Foundation, which made a recent gift of $100,000 to fund it—bringing its historic U diabetes research support to more than $385,000.

Read more

Pediatric patient dies after undergoing historic transplant at U of M

On April 23, 2013, University of Minnesota physician-scientists performed the first cord blood transplant in the United States designed specifically to cure a child with HIV/AIDS, as well as a form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) that is particularly resistant to chemotherapy alone.

This new treatment was based on the fact that the transplanted cord blood, known to be highly effective in curing leukemia, contained a variant of the cell surface protein CCR5 – known as CCR5Δ32.  Present in less than one percent of the population, CCR5Δ32 prevents most strains of the HIV virus from entering a patient’s T cells, thereby preventing the destruction of the person’s immune system.

The announcement that such a transplant had occurred this past April led to considerable interest from public as well as the HIV community. While the patient’s initial course was remarkably uneventful, in early June he developed a severe complication, called graft-versus-host disease, which occurs when the immune cells of the donor attack various tissues of the body.  While he had a partial response to its treatment initially, the patient died on Friday, July 5, 2013.

Read more