Geisinger Wyoming Valley’s transplant program posts 94% success rate

On a national scale, 92 percent to 94 percent of transplanted kidneys are still functioning one year after surgery. At Geisinger Wyoming Valley, success rates stand at a solid 94 percent.
Nominate a Top Woman in Business. Click here. Nominate an NEPA business professional under 40. Click here.

20 Under 40: JenniferDessoye

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:17 11:10:02

Dr. Jennifer Dessoye is assistant professor of occupational therapy at Misericordia University and owner of Bright Beginnings Early Learning Academy (BBELA). Discontent with the early education curriculum and understanding of human development and neurolo (read more)

20 Under 40: Amy Hlavaty Belcher

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:09 13:55:46

Amy Hlavaty Belcher, 39, owner and artistic director of Abrabesque Academy of Dancing, believes that for those who have been given much, much is expected. “I just try hard to do my best,” she said. I have been blessed with many opportunities and many gift (read more)

20 Under 40: Christopher Hetro

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 11:21:35

Chris Hetro, 33, works hard and plays hard. “A strong work ethic is important, but finding balance outside of work is important because life is too short and you need to enjoy it,” he explained. As an electrical engineer and project manager at Borton-Laws (read more)

20 Under 40: C. David Pedri

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 15:19:17

For attorney C. David Pedri, 37, it’s all about a combination of qualities that contribute to success. “My philosophy is simple: be open and honest, treat people the way you would want to be treated, with respect, and work hard to attain your dreams. The (read more)

20 Under 40: Ed Frable

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:09 11:13:04

Ed Frable, 28, believes “if I work hard and stick to my word, good things will happen. My crew will not be deterred. We will re-evaluate our game plan and not give up until the job is complete,” explained Frable, the owner/operator of Ed Frable Constructi (read more)

20 Under 40: William H. Bender II

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:16 13:11:08

William H. Bender II, CFP, CIMA, CRPC, loves what he does. “I’m lucky. I come to work every day excited to help the people and institutions we work with,” explained Bender, 34, first vice president at Bender Wealth Management Group, Merrill Lynch. The fam (read more)

20 Under 40: Angelo Venditti

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 16:09:11

Angelo Venditti, 38, heard a call to the helping professions early on. Geisinger Northeast’s chief nursing officer answer was to volunteer for his local fire company. After high school, he became a paramedic, then enrolled in nursing school. Three years a (read more)

20 Under 40: Donald Mammano

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:17 12:38:37

At 20, Donald Mammano began his own company, while attending the University of Scranton. Mammano, now 33, and president of DFM Properties, recalls, as a youngster, holding a flashlight while his father fixed the kitchen sink. “From that point on I was fas (read more)

20 Under 40: William J. Fennie III

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:15 09:50:19

William J. Fennie III, 27, is always knocking on the proverbial door, because he knows one day, one will open. As an investment specialist with Integrated Capital Management (iCM) he cannot take “no” for an answer. “I make cold calls every day to invite f (read more)

20 Under 40: Marcus Magyar

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 13:25:24

As an advisor at CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, Marcus N. Magyar, CFP, 30, provides comprehensive wealth management and investment portfolio services to business owners, executives, families and high-net worth individuals. His multi-disciplinary team of pro (read more)

20 Under 40: Heather Davis

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:10 13:34:44

Heather M. Davis, 33, director of marketing and communication, is responsible for creating, overseeing and implementing a strategic marketing and comprehensive communications plan for The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC). She is also responsible for pr (read more)

20 Under 40: Alexandria Duffney

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 14:24:50

Alexandria Duffney, 30, is competitive by nature and loves a good challenge. These qualities have led her to her position as associate director of graduate admission at Wilkes University. Here she works with prospective students interested in enrolling in (read more)

20 Under 40: John Culkin

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:07 17:18:26

John Culkin’s tenets inform: “Less haste equal more speed; the same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg, it is all about what you are made of, not the circumstances surrounding you; and don’t ask someone to walk a mile in your shoes, bef (read more)

20 Under 40: Conor O'Brien

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 17:19:58

“What could be worse than getting to the end of your life and realizing you hadn’t lived it,” mused Conor O’Brien.” As co-founder and executive director of the Scranton Fringe Festival, O’Brien, 25, is responsible for leading the development of the overal (read more)

20 Under 40: Jessica Siegfried

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:10 14:12:08

Jessica Siegfried, 38, is senior designer with BlackOut Design Inc., where she is responsible for all creative design at the full-service agency, from traditional branding and print to collateral and front end web design. “I’ve always had an interest in t (read more)

20 Under 40: David Johns

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:08 10:15:37

David Johns’ career path has been shaped by his diverse experiences. As director of structural engineering at Greenman-Pedersen Inc., Moosic, Johns, 39, ensures that his engineering and consultant teams provide clients with their best effort. “We complete (read more)

20 Under 40: Robyn Jones

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 12:41:32

Robyn Jones, 38, president of ReferLocal LLC, has learned just as many lessons from her business successes as she’s had from her failures — and she believes it’s important to share that knowledge with her employees. After graduating from American Universi (read more)

20 Under 40: Nisha Arora

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 10:02:06

Nisha Arora, 36, tries to be the best version of herself every day. As general counsel for ERA One Source Realty Inc., she realized she cannot control other’s behavior so “I try to focus on myself and how I can be better,” she explained. Arora’s responsib (read more)

20 Under 40: Justin Sandy

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:10 14:59:27

Starting at a young age in Hazleton, Justin C. Sandy, 33, found a passion for running. He became a member then a coach for Misericordia University’s cross country and track and field programs. “It was at Misericordia that I also garnered the profound sati (read more)

20 Under 40: Dr. Ariane Conaboy

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:16 09:38:07

As a doctor of internal medicine at Physicians Health Alliance, Dr. Ariane M. Conaboy, 34, realizes the importance of human life and how fragile it can be at times. Conaboy graduated from Scranton Prep and the University of Scranton with a double major in (read more)

Find us on Facebook!

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

"Like" us on Facebook for all of the latest news! (read more)

Follow us on Twitter!

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Follow us for constant updates! (read more)

Article Tools

Font size
+
Share This
EmailFacebookTwitter

Geisinger Wyoming Valley has now given the gift of life to more 100 kidney transplant patients, including one that accepted a donated kidney from Greece, as the facility’s transplant program continues to thrive.
Chintalapati Varma, M.D., Geisinger’s director of transplantation surgery, explains that the program began in the Wyoming Valley in July of 2006. At that time, the health system’s transplant team had to travel from Danville. However, by 2007, the system hired staff specifically for Wyoming Valley.
Today, Geisinger Wyoming Valley boasts impressive transplant success rates. On a national scale, 92 percent to 94 percent of transplanted kidneys are still functioning one year after surgery. At Geisinger Wyoming Valley, success rates stand at a solid 94 percent.
Although kidney transplants as a life-saving procedure are not new, the procedure is new to NEPA. Dr. Varma explains that the first kidney transplant was attempted in the 1950s on a set of identical twins from New England. The fact that donor and recipient were genetically identical helped deter rejection. Since then, the transplant process has come a long way.
Modern transplants such as are being done at Geisinger Wyoming Valley match blood and tissue types and antigens between donor and recipient. Certain combinations are preferable, and better matches lower cases of rejection.
“We also look for antibodies in the organ recipient from past activations of the immune system during infection, blood transfusion, or pregnancy,” says Dr. Varma. “These may attack the transplanted organ, and rejection can take different forms, and can be immediate.”

Survival forecasting

Dr. Varma explains that, as a rule, the life of a transplanted organ, also referred to as a graft, can now be forecast. Kidneys recovered from a cadaver function for eight to 10 years, but functional life rises significantly if a kidney is donated by a living relative.
Approximately 75 percent of donor organs are harvested from a recipient’s live family members, friends, church peers, or an altruistic public. The donation is completed laparoscopically, requiring only a two-day hospital stay but also a six- to eight-week recovery period for the donor.
Pharmaceutical breakthroughs to inhibit rejection also play a role in transplants. Physicians now use a “shock and awe” approach, where powerful drugs — and possibly antibodies — are administered immediately to the organ recipient.
Transplant patients must accept that they will need maintenance on immune-suppressing and infection-fighting drugs for as long as the transplant functions. Costs for these medications total $18,000 to $20,000 for the first year, but only make up a small part of the total $250,000 in costs required to transplant a kidney.
Geisinger employs specially trained transplant coordinators, social workers, and financial counselors as part of its transplant team.
Candidates for transplant receive head-to-toe tests for conditions that might affect their survival, including screening for diabetes, drug and alcohol abuse, cardiac problems, and digestive irregularities.
“Obesity also is a major problem for transplant candidates,” says Dr. Varma. “All of the screening we do is directed at creating a good outcome for the transplant patient.”

Comprehensive programs

Geisinger in Danville also implants livers and pancreases. The system as a whole participates in The Gift of Life program, which obtains and delivers organs to transplant centers in Pennsylvania. Additionally, the Geisinger system takes part in the expansive Kidney Paired Donation (KPD) Program, which is an option for recipients who have a living donor who is an incompatible match due to blood or tissue type.
On a disappointing note, Dr. Varma points out that the waiting list in Pennsylvania for a cadaver kidney can be very long, with a median time of five to six years. This contrasts with kidney transplant time in Florida, which averages waits of less than three years.
“We are dealing with organ allocation disparity problems,” say Dr. Varma. “At Wyoming Valley, we have about 150 people waiting for a kidney, and the number at Danville is the same. In the city of Philadelphia, there could be 800 people waiting for a kidney at any given time.”
Obviously, Pennsylvania’s Northeast region has strong competition for organs. However, things may deteriorate a bit when the regional organ allocation system is changes next year. Dr. Varma states that the revised system will not favor potential kidney recipients in Geisinger’s region.
“As a rule NEPA has older patients. Because the ages of donor and recipient are matched, it creates a problem here with organ availability,” say Dr. Varma.
Another challenge facing the Geisinger transplant team involves the awareness of local patients and physicians that an excellent transplant program is now in their own backyard. Travel for an organ recipient with any medical complications can be very tough — both for patient and family. “The NEPA region has a large geography, and this creates challenges for us to spread the word that we have a first-rate transplant facility right here,” says Dr. Varma.

Life-saving experiences

The experience of Anthony Lupinski of Luzerne, a Geisinger Wyoming Valley kidney transplant patient, illustrates the fact that kidney transplants are almost becoming routine.
Lupinski, who works as a grocery seafood manager, has actually received two kidney transplants over a 26-year period.
Lupinski’s first transplant, which was performed at Geisinger in Danville, was needed after the youth was experiencing kidney failure due to the effects of repeated strep infections. Five years ago he again began to feel ill, and diagnosis confirmed that the transplanted kidney was failing, requiring medications and life-saving dialysis.
In June of 2013 Lupinski was once again on the transplant table, this time at  Geisinger Wyoming Valley, and received a cadaver kidney from a 31-year-old donor in Philadelphia. He felt an immediate improvement to his health after the operation and was pleased that the surgical incision was about half the size of his first scar.
Lupinski returned home three days after the transplant and also noticed the effects age played in his (longer) recovery period. However, today he is back at work and thankful to once again have received the gift of life.
“The Geisinger Wyoming Valley transplant team has been just great helping me with  this experience,” adds Lupinski. “This includes counseling about all of the financial implications, which are always a factor with a transplant.”

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.