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Children's Internationally Recognized Transplant Surgeon To Lecture to Johns Hopkins Pediatrics Department During AAP Conference

George Mazariegos, MD, speaks on treatments and transplants only being done at Children's

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh's George Mazariegos, MD, will discuss how surgeons have been able to successfully wean patients off of immunosuppressive therapy, something that is only being done in Pittsburgh. Dr. Mazariegos will lecture faculty members at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Pediatrics Department on Oct. 10, 2005, in Washington, D.C., during the American Academy of Pediatrics conference held from Oct. 7-10, 2005.

Children's surgeons have been able to successfully wean patients off anti-rejection medications without the use of steroids, which for decades have been used as standard treatment to prevent rejection following transplant surgery at centers throughout the world.

"For the first time, we've eliminated steroids for these patients, which has dramatically decreased the incidence and severity of rejection and has allowed us to minimize post-transplant immunosuppression early on," said Dr. Mazariegos, director of pediatric transplantation at Children's. "Eliminating steroids has made a major difference in how these patients feel, and it will positively impact their development and ability to function as adults."

Children's physicians are pioneering new advances to diagnose rejection using non-invasive techniques; weaning patients off immunosuppression therapy; developing genetic tests (predicting rejection before it happens) to determine which patients will have the best outcomes from transplantation; and developing transplant as a treatment for certain diseases that previously had no effective treatment or cure. And for the first time, doctors are beginning to understand why and how children can survive without drugs. This new approach allows transplant surgeons at Children's to better control patients' blood pressure, fluid accumulation and hypertension. Because of this, hospital stays are shorter and complications from transplant are fewer.

Organ transplantation requires suppression of the recipient's immune system to prevent rejection. Transplant surgeons had previously felt that the more a recipient's immune system was suppressed, the better the outcome. Dr. Mazariegos said they have found the opposite to be true. "Less is more," he added. "Steroid-free immunosuppression leads to better outcomes and fewer complications. And now that children regularly survive transplant surgery, we're working to ensure they have an improved quality of life like never before."

These accomplishments build upon Children's reputation as an international leader in pediatric transplantation. Under the guidance of Thomas E. Starzl, MD, PhD, Children's established the first pediatric transplant center in the world in 1981. Since then, Children's surgeons have performed more transplants on kids than any other center in the world, and Children's has achieved patient survival rates that are among the highest in the nation. Children's transplant surgeons also performed the world's first pediatric heart/lung transplant and the world's first pediatric double lung transplant.

Melanie Finnigan or Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-5016, and

Last Update
February 18, 2008
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Last Update
February 18, 2008