The Division of General Surgery at Southern Illinois University provides a broad spectrum of surgical specialty services, including trauma, surgical critical care, oncologic surgery, breast surgery, renal and pancreas transplantation, hepatobiliary surgery, dialysis access, bariatric surgery, colorectal surgery, minimally invasive surgery, and surgical endoscopy. The division has had substantial growth in the past several years, and forms the backbone for student and resident training programs in the surgical disciplines. Academically, educationally, and clinically, the division represents one of the core components of SIU’s academic programs. In trauma and critical care, the division staffs a Level I trauma program and oversees the care of critically ill surgical patients who have suffered traumatic and other forms of severe injury or operative stress. In oncologic surgery, division staff provide specialized care for malignant diseases of the breast, stomach and foregut, pancreas, liver, biliary tree, skin and soft tissues, colon, and rectum. The division includes surgeons with advanced fellowship training in minimally invasive surgery and endoscopy, including bariatric and metabolic surgery, as well as therapeutic endoscopy of the foregut, colon, and biliary tract. Division members have pioneered new programs in the minimally invasive surgical care of morbid obesity in our region, fueled by expert fellowship training at some of our country’s finest specialty training programs. Faculty from the division lead interdisciplinary teams coordinating the management of lower gastrointestinal malignancies, and are playing key roles with teams overseeing the management of breast cancer, as well as neoplasia of the foregut and hepatobiliary systems. Transplant surgeons in the division provide kidney and pancreas transplantation for the region, are now offering minimally invasive donor nephrectomy in support of the renal transplant program, and also provide advanced level skills for the treatment of complex benign and malignant diseases of the pancreas and hepatobiliary system. Collectively, the division offers perhaps the broadest and most highly trained and specialized group of surgical providers in the region.
Educationally, the division supports the core surgical rotation for SIU medical students, and constitutes the faculty foundation for the SIU general surgery residency program. A nationally –recognized surgical skills laboratory, and an internationally respected educational research program form key components of the educational environment the division provides. Current division members serve in board, executive, and other leadership roles with national and international surgical education organizations including the Association for Surgical Education, the Association of Program Directors in Surgery, the American Society of Colorectal Surgeons, the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, and the American College of Surgeons.
Based on their academic and educational contributions, members of the division have also been elected to some of the most prestigious surgical societies, and have served in leadership roles for the national accrediting bodies overseeing graduate medical education programs in areas such as colorectal surgery. In the area of research and scholarship, division members are also involved in collaboration with basic science researchers in the area of oncogenesis of colon, breast, and pancreatic cancer. Ongoing research has also included clinical and outcomes research on a wide range of benign and malignant disease processes. Members of the division in the past five years have coauthored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications in medical journals and over 40 book chapters and review articles. Division surgeons have been also recognized nationally and internationally in their fields of endeavor, including having received national awards in surgical education and educational scholarship. In summary, the division of general surgery constitutes one of the most diverse, expertly trained, nationally recognized, and dedicated groups of surgeons in our region. It is the division’s goal to provide compassionate and expert surgical care to our patients, outstanding education and mentoring to our trainees, and faithful and diligent service to our colleagues and community. Through these activities, it is our higher goal to serve the University and the region it serves for the common good.
John D. Mellinger, MD
J. Roland Folse, MD, Endowed Chair
Professor and Chair, Division of General Surgery
Memorial’s Transplant Services Offers Minimally Invasive Procedure for Kidney Donors
SPRINGFIELD – 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.