The Texas Transplant Center Support Group meets 5:30 to 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month. The group meets at the Multispecialty Center at Victory Lakes Town Center, 2660 Gulf Freeway South, Suite 3, in League City. The group is open to all pre and post-transplant patients and their caregivers. The meetings are structured around participant needs and interests. A transplant social worker facilitates each group meeting. A transplant coordinator and/or transplant dietitian attend each meeting as well. Topics include “What to expect from transplant, relaxation exercises, and/or improving coping skills.
Cynthia Venegas-Jepsen, a Transplant Center patient, published a Christmas Day letter in The Daily News. In it she wrote:
...If you live in Galveston County, there are many things to be thankful and grateful for, but primary to me is the University of Texas Medical Branch and what it means to the residents of Galveston and Galveston County.
I feel blessed to be a BOI, but my real blessing is living so close to a renowned medical center. It was not until Hurricane Ike that it hit me how blessed I have been. I took for granted the emergency room, hospital clinics and outstanding doctors and staff. Losing most of these after the storm took a toll not only on me but on all of Galveston County.
For the first time in my life, I was scared UTMB was not going to come back. At the time, I was a liver transplant candidate and on the list for a transplant. I did not need the extra stress of not having an operational hospital or emergency room to go to close to home.
The liver transplant team made me a top priority, and team members kept doing their job. I thank God they stayed the course through all of the uncertainty and kept their patients as their primary concern. This is what makes a doctor or professional person working at UTMB different from one who works in Houston. It is called caring!
Debbie Cheramie, of Morgan City, La., has been living in Galveston for almost a year, after undergoing a double-lung transplant at UTMB’s Texas Transplant Center. “During this holiday season, people reflect on the blessings the year has given them. I have much to be thankful for; I have a new lease on life and am liberated from the suffering of my old lungs. I have gotten exceptional care at the University of Texas Medical Branch.”
In this guest column, UTMB’s Gisele Lombard, certified transplant coordinator for the lung transplant program, wrote how UTMB’s Texas Transplant Center provides another option for people waiting for transplantation in Houston. “Because the Galveston County population resides in an organ procurement region different from Harris County, patients in both counties benefit from double listing at transplant programs in Houston and Galveston. This greatly increases their chance of undergoing transplantation by drawing from two separate pools of potential donor organs, thereby reducing their wait list time.” She also mentioned that Dr. Vincent Valentine, medical director of UTMB’s lung transplant program, is an expert in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and cystic fibrosis. “He is the only advanced lung transplant specialist in the world involved and published in three different multicentered trials in lung transplantation.”
Dr. Luca Cicalese, director of the Texas Transplant Center at UTMB, was featured on a special June 15 KPRC-TV (Ch. 2) newscast. Local 2 spoke with more than a dozen Houston-area patients who either are waiting for an organ transplant or recently had a transplant surgery. Only about half knew they could “double-list” in Galveston and Houston. That means a patient could sign up at a transplant center in Houston and at UTMB's transplant center in Galveston and be on two different waiting lists.
There are more than 100,000 people nationwide who are on the transplant waiting list, including more than 10,000 of our friends and neighbors in the state of Texas. Every day 18 people die waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. Thousands more lives can be enhanced through tissue and cornea transplants. You can make a difference.
For those interested in organ donation, it takes less than 60 seconds to register online as an organ donor. This is part of the Donate Life Texas campaign and is designed to increase the number of people registered to be organ, eye, and tissue donors. To learn more about donation or to register your decision to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor, please visit www.donatelifetexas.org or your nearest Driver's License Office.
UTMB transplant teams performed two living donor transplants for one family, 17 years apart. Robert Guerra, 22, made the six-hour trip from Brownsville to UTMB to undergo a kidney transplant at the Texas Transplant Center. Guerra’s mother, Carmen, made the same trip nearly 20 years earlier when her daughter, then 13, had her own kidney transplant.
“I’ve been through this before,” said Carmen. “I wasn’t nervous. I knew my son, like my daughter before him, was in good hands.”
In the photo from left to right are UTMB nurse Suzanne Couture; Robert Guerra, kidney transplant recipient; and Carmen Guerra, Robert’s mother. Read the complete story and see video on the UTMB Newsroom.
To Learn More:
The Joint Commission has granted UTMB Health Disease Specific Certification of the Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Program for destination therapy, approaching the use of VAD as permanent therapy for heart failure. This approach is used for end-stage heart failure patients who are not eligible for heart transplant due to their age, other health problems or complications. UTMB has been implanting these devices as a bridge to heart transplant with excellent outcomes.
This certification is important because it provides UTMB a certification of distinction and allows us to bring new life to our patients who have few options and might not otherwise survive.
To learn more about VADs, visit the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.