News Roundup #8: African American activity, Transplant quick test, Salvadorean transnational transplant, Nigerian blood donation

Goodies to combat Black history month withdrawal

As Black history month wound to a close yesterday, we give wanted you a few news tidbits on the African American angle. Here at TransplantInformers, we’re no strangers to recognizing disparities that affect black communities. First up, a feature on Dr. Velma Scantlebury, the first Black woman to become a transplant surgeon in the U.S.

Scantlebury is working to break down the mistrust that African Americans have of the medical establishment, including the belief that doctors won’t work as hard to save your life in an emergency situation if you are an organ donor — the legacy of the Tuskegee experiment linger even until this day….

“My passion,” she told Ebony Magazine, “is to educate the African-American community and to empower dialysis patients with the knowledge and understanding that they, too, can have a better life through the gift of transplantation.”

Scantlebury is also committed to increasing the number of minorities and women in her field so that future generations won’t have to deal with patients concerned about their doctor’s sex or race.

“I’ve always said that I would not retire until there are at least 10 other African-American women in transplantation,” said Scantlebury.

I wasn’t keeping track of any figures, but the fact that there are only two African American women who are in transplantation is very unsettling. When it comes to the discrepancies in numbers of donors, also having physician advocates that communities can identify with may be a contributing factor in relation to trust.

And in Illinois, the Chicago Tribune reports:

The Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers is working with the General Assembly’s Black Caucus to increase blood donations in the African-American community. The campaign is called “Make Every Drop Count.”

…30 percent of sickle-cell patients[many of which are African-American] develop antibodies that destroy transfused blood cells. The antibodies make it almost impossible to find compatible blood outside African-American donations.

The marrow compensation convo continues

A criminal defense lawyer weighs in on HuffPo regarding the Flynn v. Holder decision about compensation for bone marrow donation and the WSJ piece we featured in a previous roundup. He seems largely in support of it, but again, the inequality of communities and the consequences of incentives being targeting to promote donation in those communities are minimized in the discussion.

Salvadorean-American visitor visa for bone marrow transplant

There’s been a lot on immigration and transplantation in the news lately, and this story is yet another example of how immigration status and documentation can deeply affect the feasibility of transplants in ways that they shouldn’t. A New Jersey girl, Yarelis Bonilla, had to wait longer to receive a bone marrow transplant with stem cells donated from her sister Gisselle Bonilla Ramirez, a compatible match. Her sister was twice denied a visitor visa from the State Department, until a senator stepped in to get her humanitarian visa granted. In fact, It made the rounds at many major newspapers, we’ve got the WaPo coverage here, as well as local TV coverage. And bonus coverage in Spanish. Plus, pictures of the family. Thankfully, Yarelis has a better chance at survival, but who knows what would’ve happened without the mobilization that got the Senator Menedez to lobby for the visa?

Succeed or Frail

A test for frailty,  developed by researchers at Johns Hopkins, may be the key to better predictions of kidney transplant success:

“Few current measures are accurate in predicting kidney transplant success, but we think we have identified one that works incredibly well,” says study leader Dorry L. Segev, associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

“A few years ago, we showed that a frailty score is a simple, yet powerful, bedside tool to predict surgical outcomes in elderly patients, and now it seems it can do that same for younger patients with chronic diseases like kidney failure.”

Frailty, the surgeon says, is best defined medically as a low level of physiologic reserve and reduced ability to withstand stress to the body. It is measured using a five-point scale developed at Johns Hopkins.

Patients are classified as frail if they meet three or more of the following criteria: shrinking, or unintentional weight loss; weakness, as measured by grip strength; exhaustion; reduced physical activity; and slowed walking speed.

Laugh for Lives makes the news!

In the name of shameless plugs, we’ll mention that prominent Japanese American news outlet Rafu Shimpo gave a shout out to AADP’s Laugh for Lives, a comedy show cum bone marrow donor drive that we’ve covered extensively in celebration of it’s 5th anniversary this Friday.

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  1. [...] on the Flynn family whose lawsuit sparked the landmark 9th circuit court of appeals ruling that bone marrow donors who donate via peripheral blood can be compensated. Of course, the Obama administration is appealing the ruling, and for some good reasons, but it [...]



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