Faculty and Student Receive Humanism, Teaching Awards
Several honors have been announced this spring at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield.
A faculty member and graduating senior were named recipients of the 2013 Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award presented during commencement ceremonies May 18. Dr. John Mellinger, professor of surgery, and Dr. Brittany Obert, a 2013 graduate of SIU School of Medicine from Springfield, were recognized as individuals who demonstrate compassion, respect for patients and families, and clinical excellence. The award is sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.
A student who nominated Mellinger for the award said, “He is an excellent role model of the kind of physician I want to be. He is genuinely a good man who shows true concern for everyone whom he comes into contact with. He is wonderful to talk to because you know that he is truly listening to you and will give you excellent feedback. . . . His outstanding communication skills are especially evident when observing him with patients. He is extremely
respectful in all aspects of patient care and truly wants to work with patients to decide what
would be the best process for them.”
Mellinger is chair of the Division of General Surgery and the J. Roland Folse, M.D.,Endowed Chair for surgery. He served a fellowship in surgical endoscopy at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Cleveland (1990) and completed his general surgery residency at Blodgett Memorial Medical Center/St. Mary’s Hospital/MSU in Grand Rapids, Mich. (1989). Mellinger earned his medical degree and his bachelor’s summa cum laude from Case Western Reserve University in
Cleveland, Ohio (1984, 1980). He served four years in the U.S. Air Force. He is board certified in general surgery by the American Board of Surgery. He has co-authored more than 65 research publications and book chapters.
Memorial’s Transplant Services Offers Minimally Invasive Procedure for Kidney Donors
Memorial Medical Center has begun offering a minimally invasive procedure to remove a kidney for transplant from a living donor. The hospital first performed the procedure, known as laparoscopic nephrectomy, on Sept. 22. Laparoscopic nephrectomy provides kidney donors with a shorter recovery time and allows them to return to their daily routines sooner, Rebecca Anderson, director of Memorial Transplant Services, said. Other benefits to the minimally invasive procedure include smaller incisions, less scarring, less pain and fewer complications. “We want to do all we can to protect the health of people who are making this generous donation,” Anderson said. About one third of the kidney transplant procedures at Memorial involve living donors. The minimally invasive procedure requires only several small incisions. Through these incisions, surgeons use a small but powerful camera, called an endoscope, and specialized surgical instruments to conduct the operation and remove the kidney.
Dr. Marc Garfinkel, surgical director of Memorial Transplant Services, performs the procedures. He is an associate professor of surgery in the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine’s division of general surgery and is with SIU HealthCare. “The quality of a donor kidney is superior with a live donor, meaning that the transplanted organ is more likely to function longer in the transplanted recipient compared to an organ from a deceased donor,” Garfinkel said. The median years of use of a transplanted kidney is more than double for a kidney from a live donor – 17 years – compared to a deceased donor – eight years. Garfinkel has performed about 100 minimally invasive kidney removal procedures on living kidney donors during his career. He came to Springfield after previously serving at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee and the University of Chicago, where he was director of the Islet Transplant Program and Islet Isolation.
By offering the minimally invasive procedure, Memorial hopes to increase the number of people willing to donate, Anderson said. Living donors are often friends or family members of the transplant patients, although persons unknown to the recipients can donate as well. Recipients who have a living donor often receive a kidney much sooner compared to those on the national wait list. The national median wait time for a kidney from a deceased donor is about three years. Memorial has an estimated 120 patients who are on the waiting list to receive a kidney. The hospital performs an average of 30 transplants each year. More than 75,000 patients currently need a kidney in the United States, according to the National Kidney Foundation. More than 26 million Americans – one in nine adults – have kidney disease. Memorial Transplant Services follows and manages the care of approximately 250 post-transplant patients. The transplant program is a cooperative initiative involving the hospital, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and Springfield Clinic.
The program was founded in 1973 by Dr. Alan Birtch, professor emeritus of surgery at SIU School of Medicine. Since its founding, the program has completed 760 transplants involving the kidney, pancreas or both.