The Ultimate Match Game: Donors and Recipients in Triple Kidney Swap Meet for the First Time

There were plenty of hugs to go around when six patients involved in a triple kidney swap conducted at the University of Maryland Medical Center met for the first time on July 8, 2011. Each recipient originally came to the hospital with an intended donor: a spouse, a sibling and a church friend.

However, when the blood and tissue typing revealed their intended donors were not a match, all three pairs entered UMMC’s Paired Kidney Exchange (PKE) Program, which seeks to create swaps among incompatible pairs. All six patients met for the first time today at UMMC to talk about their experiences since the transplants took place on June 15, 2011.

“It was a great experience to help someone I never met,” said Karen Becker, 54, who entered the PKE program after she found out she was not a match for her husband, John, who had been diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease. By enrolling in the PKE program, Karen was still able to help someone in need — ultimately donating a kidney to Mae Opie, a 73-year-old grandmother from Bel Air who also was living with polycystic kidney disease.

Mae’s original donor was Jesse Epperley, a 28-year-old fellow church member who felt called to donate his kidney after reading about Mae’s need in the church bulletin. When Mae and Jesse didn’t match, he entered the PKE program, and his kidney went to Paul McSorley, a 55-year old from Harford County, who did not match with his fraternal twin, Joy Hindle. Joy ultimately donated her kidney to John Becker, who also suffered from polycystic kidney disease.

All three donors had their kidneys removed through single-incision laparoscopic surgery (SILS) through their belly buttons. The University of Maryland Medical Center was the first hospital in Maryland and only the third hospital in the country to offer this minimally invasive technique for living kidney donors. Donors are often amazed at how easy the surgery can be. “I came out of surgery with nothing but a Band-Aid,” said Hindle. “I couldn’t believe it. It’s amazing; I have no scar.”

See the complete photo gallery here.

Parents of Former Patient Host Charity Remote Control Airplane Event to Benefit UMMC’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

By Joanna and Andrew
Parents of Former NICU Patient

Andrew, Joanna and Michael present UMMC’s NICU with a check for $1,179.

Editor’s Note: Joanna and Andrew welcomed their son Michael into the world on July 21, 2009, after only 25 weeks gestation. He was 12 inches long and weighed only one pound, 10 ounces. At three weeks old, Michael was diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a condition primarily seen in premature infants that causes parts of the bowel tissue to die. After having two children born full-term and having not experienced any problems during this pregnancy, Joanna and Andrew were not prepared for the roller coaster ride they were about to embark on. Read their story below.

Michael was born at a community hospital in Baltimore on July 21, 2009. Despite being born after only 25 weeks gestation, he was progressing very well and even breathing on his own during the first few weeks of his life. However, when we got the call early in the morning that Michael had been diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and was very sick after doing so well the first few weeks, we were devastated. When we got to his isolet, there were so many machines and IVs hooked to him. He was no longer a healthy pink; he was grey.

The doctors at the community hospital started to treat him for NEC as best as they could, but he wasn’t improving as well as they thought he should. He would improve for a few hours then begin regressing again. His body started to shut down; his urine output was down to almost nothing.

Drs. Roger Voight and James Moore were called from the University of Maryland Medical Center. They came to the community hospital and examined him and started to treat him. After several days of undergoing treatment from Drs. Voigt and Moore, Michael was stable enough to be transferred to the NICU at UMMC.

Many emotions were going through our minds as the UMMC transportation team transported Michael from the community hospital to UMMC. Shortly after Michael arrived in the NICU at UMMC, he was taken into surgery. Dr. Moore performed the surgery that removed part of Michael’s intestines and colon.

Michael spent a total of 115 days in the NICU, with about 95 of those days being spent at UMMC. Dr. Moore and his staff, along with the many other doctors and nurses in the NICU, were very attentive to Michael and comforted us during this difficult time. The nurses gave us regular updates on his condition and were always available to answer any questions that we had. Thankfully, Michael recovered from NEC, as well as several other obstacles he ran into along the way. He is now a healthy, active almost 2-year-old.

Michael may not have lived if it wasn’t for the doctors, nurses, staff and technology at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Although we never dreamed of needing this type of care for one of our children, we were very grateful that it was available when we needed it most.

Two remote controlled planes flying during the fundraiser.

It is very important to support the NICU at UMMC to ensure that infants like Michael, who otherwise might not have a chance at life, can grow up to lead healthy, happy lives. It is because of the care that Michael received at the NICU that we hosted a charity remote control airplane event — the Maryland Electric Day Spectacular — to benefit the NICU at UMMC. The event was held on June 4, 2011 at the Konterra Model Air Park in Laurel, MD. It was a great event — the first of what we hope will become an annual event — and lasted late into the evening with 32 pilots from five different states and the District of Columbia attending. We raised $1,179, and all proceeds benefitted the NICU at the UMMC.

Art Teacher Happy to be Back in the Classroom Following Successful Tinnitus Treatment

Artist George Goebel first noticed a strange ringing sensation in his ears in December 2007. His ENT referred him to Dr. David Eisenman at the University of Maryland Medical Center, a specialist in treating disorders of the inner ear. After successfully treating George for endolymphatic hydrops, Dr. Eisenman recommended George meet with Dr. LaGuinn Sherlock to begin treatment for tinnitus, the condition causing the ringing in his ears.

Click here to read George’s story as posted on the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Web site.

Physical Therapist Shares Parkinson’s Stories

Editor’s Note: Grace Griffith is a retired physical therapist and an award-winning singer and speaker who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1998. She recently participated in a Parkinson’s Exercise Study conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Baltimore VA Medical Center.  She continues to receive regular follow-up care at The Maryland Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center with Dr. Lisa Shulman and Dr. Karen Anderson.  Below, Grace reflects on her 25- year career as a physical therapist who worked with Parkinson’s disease patients and her own challenges with the disease.

When I was a physical therapist working in hospital and home settings, I was often struck by the peculiarities of the Parkinson’s cases. These folks would have non-expressive, often nonresponsive faces such that I could not really tell whether they were mentally alert or not. Their bodies were stiff as statues and tended to grow more so if my mission that day was to get them to walk. Great emphasis had to be put on trying to get them to relax and trust that I would not let them fall. Sitting up on the side of the bed felt like falling forward to them.

There are many little vignettes of memories from my 25-year career as a physical therapist. Here are a few more from my Parkinson’s stories.

There was an old man in Waldorf who was living with his son and family. I’ll call him Mr. Doe here. The first time I arrived to see Mr. Doe his son had to speak for him as Mr. Doe’s mouth was stuck firmly open. With close observation, I could discern that Mr. Doe was responding to questions with small amplitude nods or side to side movements and audible but incomprehensible attempts at speech. Midway through the evaluation Mr. Doe’s son administered his Parkinson’s disease medication and said, “Watch him in 20 minutes –- it’s like a miracle.” Sure enough, 20 minutes later Mr. Joe was on his feet and walking rapidly about the house, talking about things quite clearly. It really was as though he had been frozen and suddenly thawed.

Another memory takes me back to an administrative assistant at the church I was attending in 1980s. This woman, “Em” was rigid in her stance and never smiled. I always attributed these things to emotional coldness and lack of spontaneity.

I don’t recall exactly when my first symptom of Parkinson’s appeared. I don’t remember the order of onset of these things but they included a shuffling gait (which I attributed at that time to the shoes I was wearing), generally being late whereas I had always been a speedy and punctual sort, and feeling like “the Invisible Woman” because people did not respond to what I said. The truth is they were not hearing me because I was speaking softly in a whispery voice, which is a common characteristic of Parkinson’s. I didn’t realize how my quality of movement had changed until my patients started making comments about how slow and stiff I had become. I never got indications that I was moving “oddly” except for unblinking children’s stares and store security monitors.

My case is atypical in that my age at diagnosis was young — 42. Also I was eighth in a litter of 10 and one of my brothers had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when he was 42 as well. My brother had served as a mentor/guide to me during those years and I had already begun focused study of the topic for his sake when my own symptoms crept up and surprised me.

I have much more to say than would fit within the scope of this article, but in order to leave it at a moderate length and to make it in educational experience I will list some less well known facts about Parkinson’s Disease.

Parkinson’s is usually a disease of elders and the cause is not fully understood. Research suggests a genetic link and an environmental trigger particularly in the younger onset cases such as myself. Pesticides used in farming are definitely under suspicion.

But let’s go back go Em at the church. When I was early in my own journey with Parkinson’s disease, I felt bad about having been so insensitive in my judgments of Em. I began going out of my way to engage her in conversation which I could understand only by placing my ear very close to her mouth and watching her mouth muscles like a lip reader does. When Em could no longer speak at all, I would stand next to her at social gatherings so she would at least feel like a person who mattered and not just an invisible woman. In her latter years her speech required great effort to understand. Now I knew the discomfort of her cramping rigid muscles and her fear of falling and the isolation that comes with Parkinson’s first-hand.

I am dictating this article on voice-activated software and it’s a good thing I’m fortunate enough to have that because early on my handwriting became difficult to read or write and arduous. I had been high-speed typist until Parkinson’s took away that skill. Now it’s a constant choice between the three — writing by hand (all caps with great focus and effort rather than graceful or playful cursive), dictating, or talking by phone (which requires a headset to keep the microphone properly aimed and to avoid hanging up on my caller by wobbly head movements).

But take heart, my fellow sufferers, survivors, People living with Parkinson’s or however you prefer to identify yourself. I have been living with Parkinson’s for 12 years now and there has been much pleasure in that time. I anticipate more.

I close here with a special request to those of you who have someone living with Parkinson’s in your life as a friend, family member or acquaintance. Don’t assume that someone who is speaking slowly or incomprehensibly and who may not respond with any change in facial expression doesn’t hear you or understand you. Also, do not assume they’re ignorant –- Mr. Joe and Em held PhD’s in their fields, had great active senses of humor and were unusually compassionate people of great depth. Be aware that due to their slowness, coordination problems with dressing and dining, and other such inconvenient limitations, they are probably lonely and a little bit of attention and kindness can go along way towards impacting their quality of life.

Reach out. That woman over in the corner with the slow rigid movements and the mask face that may appear over serious or even angry could be me. Make my day.

Light One Little Candle Provides Books to Children of Cancer Patients

The University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center held a familiy-friendly event in the Stoler Pavilion on March 1, 2011, when it launched Light One Little Candle, a program to provide books to children of cancer patients and caregivers. The program is based on the belief that reading together creates a special bond between parent and child and distracts from the worries of cancer treatment while promoting the lifelong pleasure of reading.

Hospital staff, patients and families gathered for the kick-off event organized by the University of Maryland Department of Social Work and the Greenebaum Cancer Center. Children and grandchildren of patients and staff came dressed as storybook characters and enjoyed arts and crafts activities and refreshments. Books were presented to the children to take home and read with their parents.

Donations of new books are welcome. To donate, choose from University of Maryland Medical Center’s wish list on or purchase new books from any bookstore and send them to:

University of Maryland Medical Center
c/o Rebecca Latham
Associate Director of Social Work
22 S. Greene Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

For more information about this program, please contact Becky Latham in the Department of Social Work at 410-328-6506.

New Perioperative (Surgical) Services Web Site Helps Patients Prepare for Surgery

By Chris Lindsley
Blog Editor

Preparing for a surgical procedure can be a stressful time for patients and their families. The more you know about what to expect, though, the better you may feel about this process. The University of Maryland Medical Center has created a Web site to explain the process in detail, and to answer many of the questions you and your family may have.

Some of the things you will find on our new Perioperative (Surgical) Services Web site include:

If you have any questions, or need additional information, please call the PREP Center at 410-328-5750.

Crafters Spread Some Holiday Warmth to Cancer Patients

The UMMC Knit & Crochet Circle, a group of people who knit and crochet from throughout the Medical Center, have been busy this fall making lap blankets for cancer patients in the Marlene & Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center. The goal for the holiday project was to make 100 blankets to distribute to patients who are undergoing cancer treatment or who have to be in the hospital during the holidays.

Trisha Kendall, BSN, RN, OCN, who has been named a finalist in the Daily Record’s 2011 Health Care Heroes Awards Program for her work as the group’s founder, reports that the group exceeded its goal, with the help of friends both within and outside the Medical Center. “Staff from across the Medical Center joined forces with community members from the Waxter Center, local churches, and cancer survivors to give to others this season. It’s very touching to see how many people came through to help,” she says. At last count, 156 handmade lap blankets were waiting to be presented to patients as holiday gifts. Trisha personalizes each blanket with a tag that wishes each survivor strength, peace, and recovery.

Volunteers distributed the blankets during the week of December 20, both to outpatients in the Stoler Pavilion and to inpatients throughout the Medical Center living with cancer.

The UMMC Knitting Circle meets on the first Wednesday of the month from noon to 2 p.m. at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The public is welcome to attend. For more information, contact Trisha Kendall at 410-328-5420 or

Father Gives Son the Gift (Kidney) of Life

On October 28, 2009, Carlos Chambers received a life-saving kidney transplant that put an end to his need for continuous dialysis treatments and gave him back the strength and energy he had before being diagnosed with kidney failure just a few years ago. What made this life-saving gift even more special to Carlos was that his new kidney was donated by his father, Thomas Dunkins, III.

In this ten-minute video, Carlos and his father discuss the joy they felt after learning that Thomas would be a perfect donor for Carlos. They also talk about why they chose to come to the Medical Center, what it was like for them to go through the transplant process together, including their experience attending the Transplant Education Series offered by the Medical Center, and why they often return to UMMC to help other patients and donors in the transplant program. Watch the video to learn more about their incredible story.

Rare, Lifesaving Heart/Liver Transplant Saves Young Man’s Life

David Krech, a 28-year-old man from Thomasville, Georgia, underwent a rare, lifesaving heart/liver transplant on October 15, 2010 at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The 13-hour operation followed a five-month journey, which began in early May when Krech’s physician, Dr. Raul Santos, contacted the University of Maryland Medical Center’s heart transplant program to make arrangements for Krech to be immediately transported to the Medical Center. Watch the video to learn more about this remarkable story.

Patient Reunion with Nurses Highlights Orthopaedic Nursing Day

By Katie Campbell
Web Content Developer

On Friday, October 29, 2010, 15 patients returned to the Department of Orthopaedics at the University of Maryland Medical Center to celebrate Orthopaedic Nursing Day. Patients were invited to share lunch and experiences with each other and the nursing staff. Pauline Esoga, a senior clinical orthopaedics nurse, organized the reunion lunch.

“Orthopaedic Nursing Day allows us to recognize those nurses who are specialists in orthopaedics,” Esoga said. “When a nurse is certified in a particular area, he or she is able provide patients with the best practice and care.”

At the reunion lunch, patients discussed their personal journeys, including the pain they experienced before surgery, waking up groggy and blurry-eyed just in time to be assisted with their first post-surgery steps and the improved mobility they are experiencing today. The lunch was a celebration for orthopaedic nurses and the work they do to consistently achieve outstanding results for their patients.

“The patients are happy and that’s all we wanted,” Esoga said. “To see that not only did we help them through their surgery, but that even in the community they are able to fit in and get back to normal function. That’s what orthopaedic nursing is all about.”

Orthopaedic Nursing Day is a recognized holiday that is celebrated internationally on October 30.