Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Organ Project Launches National Campaign to End the Transplant Waitlist – Yahoo Finance

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First set of television and radio spots will launch in Ottawa, then rollout across North America

OTTAWA, April 14, 2017 /CNW/ – The Organ Project, a major philanthropic initiative founded by Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk today announced the launch of a series of television and radio spots aimed at raising awareness about the life-saving importance of organ donation. 

The first set of thought-provoking television and radio spots will launch in the Ottawa region and will begin airing on Saturday, April 15. Thanks to the generosity of Bell Media, the radio spots will air on MAJIC 100, Ottawa’s New Country 94, 580 CFRA and TSN 1200. The television spots will be broadcast on CTV Ottawa’s CJOH and CHRO, Rogers Sportsnet and the Ottawa Senators’ in-arena programming during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

A national and North America-wide rollout is planned as well as efforts to engage with all major North American professional sports teams within the National Hockey League, the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the Canadian Football League and Major League Soccer.

“April is Organ Donation Awareness Month across Canada so I feel there is no better time to launch this significant public awareness campaign focused on highlighting the life-saving importance for all of us to register to be organ donors,” said The Organ Project’s Founder Eugene Melnyk. “This campaign is our first major step towards ending the organ donor waitlist where people of all ages wait desperately for life-saving transplants. This campaign is intended to bring organ donation to the forefront and by doing so encourage as many individuals as possible to have the all-important conversation with family and friends about giving the gift of life by becoming an organ donor.”

Celebrity Morgan Freeman’s universally recognizable voice is featured in several of the television and radio spots which are aimed at taking the public on various thought-provoking journeys to highlight the life-saving importance of being an organ donor and how it can help end the transplant waitlist where 4,600 Canadians currently wait in desperate need of transplants.

The television spots were first previewed on March 31, 2017 when The Organ Project hosted a sold out and highly successful inaugural fundraising gala featuring seven-time Grammy Award winner Carrie Underwood. The highly anticipated gala raised nearly $1.4 million that will be invested into a number of important programs and policy initiatives including today’s launch of The Organ Project’s national public awareness and education campaign. 

Additional television spots will be released as part of the national and North America-wide rollout of this campaign.

About The Organ Project

Launched in February 2017 by Eugene Melnyk the Owner and Chairman of the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club, The Organ Project is a charitable organization focused on ending the organ donor wait list for transplants. In Canada, more than 4,600 people are in desperate need of a life-saving organ transplant. The Organ Project aims to make traditional organ donor registration simpler, efficient, and more accessible because a single organ donor has the power to save eight lives. By working with federal, provincial and state governments, The Organ Project will also explore policy changes to make real and practical system improvements to organ donation and transplantation across Canada and the United States. For more information on The Organ Project please visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

SRTR hosting information webinar for all transplant patients and families

Here’s a chance for transplant families to give their feedback.  Join SRTR webinar about the tiered outcome assessments and their new website. Register today:
The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) plans to host an informational webinar  for all patients and families.  This includes our living donors too.  The webinar is about the new SRTR website and tiered outcome assessment systems. SRTR’s goals are to describe the motivation behind the changes, compare and contrast the 3-tier and 5-tier outcome assessment methodologies, and address common questions about the two systems. Information will be provided as to how interested parties may submit feedback regarding the website and outcome assessment systems. Space is limited, pre-register for the event today.

Mom of teen who died suddenly after football injury meets with transplant recipients – WJBD Online

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Mom of teen who died suddenly after football injury meets with transplant recipients

ABC News(NEW YORK) — It was an emotional day recently for Cassondra Singleton, who met with some of the recipients of organs from her teen son who died last year after a football injury.

In November 2016, Aaron Singleton, 15, a straight-A student at Joshua High School in Texas, suffered seizures after taking a hit during a game. He was rushed to the hospital, where doctors reportedly discovered he had a blood clot and swelling in his brain.

The next day, he was taken off life support after doctors determined he was still unresponsive. Aaron Singleton’s organs were donated.

On Tuesday, Cassondra Singleton of Burleson, Texas, was joined by her family and fiancé, Robert Gray, as she met with Brenda Florez, 61, of Carlsbad, New Mexico; Dustin Earley, 32, of Denison, Texas; and Mike Norton, 62, of Houston, Texas, and their close relatives at Baylor Scott and White All Saints Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

Florez received a kidney and liver; Earley, a kidney and pancreas; and Norton, a heart.

“It’s a sad experience but it’s also a happy experience. It’s something that from the very beginning I always wanted to take place,” Florez said. “I always wanted to meet the family. When they contacted me and said that they were ready to meet the recipient families, I said, ‘Yes.'”

On Tuesday, Singleton said that Aaron would be happy to see how he’d given life to so many others.

“It’s really emotional. It’s happy because [Brenda] gets to carry on, you know, with her life and with her kids and husband and family and friends and everything,” Singleton said.

She went on, “You know, it’s a little sad. It’s very sad. Because I don’t have my son but her and others, Brenda and others get to live life to the fullest and that means a lot to me and my family.”

Norton brought a stethoscope so that Singleton and her family could listen to the new heart beating inside his chest.

Born with a heart defect in which the heart loses elasticity, Norton said he’d ended up on the transplant list after he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

“Everything I do for the rest of my life, Aaron is taking me there,” said Norton, a landscape photographer. “I feel him every day.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Parents of boy who once received transplant donate his organs – The Star Online

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Deng Jun kisses her son in hospital. Photo: Handout

Deng Jun kisses her son in hospital. Photo: Handout

HONG KONG: The parents of a 15-year-old boy, who once received a cornea transplant, donated his organs after he died on Saturday, the Chengdu Commercial Daily reported.

Deng Jun, the mother of Zhang Junyan, who died from encephalitis, decided to donate his liver and kidneys to save three other critically ill patients at Sichuan Provincial People’s Hospital in southwest China.

“He was very young, and until now has not been able to contribute to society. Donating his organs is his chance. I want to make his passing away more meaningful,” Deng said.

An accident three years ago gradually claimed Zhang’s sight in his left eye, but a cornea transplant in March last year restored his vision.

“Zhang cherished his restored eye very much, and carried eye drops wherever he went,” Deng said.

But, on March 14, Zhang came down with a headache and fever and was treated at a nearby clinic, which gave him some medication and sent him home.

Without prompt and accurate treatment, Zhang’s symptoms quickly deteriorated. When he was unable to speak properly two days later, Deng sent him to a hospital in Nanchong, where he was diagnosed with suspected meningitis and was transferred to the more advanced Sichuan Provincial People’s Hospital.

Four days later, Zhang lapsed into a coma and it was confirmed that he had viral encephalitis.

On March 28, doctors informed Zhang’s parents that their son could not be saved.
Zhang’s organs were recovered and he was buried in Chengdu on April 1. – South China Morning Post

Senate Panel Advances Bill On Transplant Discrimination – CBS Philly

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — A state Senate panel has advanced legislation intended to stop organ transplant agencies from discriminating against people with disabilities.

The bill, sponsored by Philadelphia Democrat John Sabatina, cleared its first hurdle by passing out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It would prohibit organ transplant discrimination against patients on the basis of physical, mental or developmental disability.

“Senate Bill 108 has been named “Paul’s Law” on behalf of Paul Corby, a young man from Pottsville who needs a heart transplant, but is experiencing this very type of discrimination,” Sabatina said. “He was denied a life preserving heart transplant during the summer of 2011 because he has autism and psychiatric issues.”

Sabatina says that kind of discrimination is “inhumane and unacceptable.” He says right now, people with those types of disabilities can’t even get on the waiting list for transplant. He says his bill does not guarantee them an organ but simply allows people with special needs to get on the list.

These 7 hospitals have the best pediatric organ transplant outcomes – Becker’s Hospital Review

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Nearly 2,000 children ranging from newborns to 17-year-olds received organ transplants in 2015, and nearly 2,000 children are still on the waitlist, according to HHS’ information on organ donation and transplantation.

Most children under 18 who need an organ transplant are waiting for a liver, heart or kidney.

The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients uses data collected from other organizations to assess outcomes of centers that perform pediatric liver and heart transplants. SRTR has two rating systems for its outcomes assessment score:

  • A three-tier rating system assigns hospitals a “better than expected,” “as expected” or “worse than expected” score based on risk-adjusted assessment of first-year success (being alive with a functioning transplant one year after surgery).
  • A five-tier outcome assessment system, which is in beta mode, that assigns hospitals a score of one (the worst) to five (the best) based on how many patients stay alive with a functioning transplant one year after surgery.

In the three-tier system, just one hospital earned a “better than expected” for pediatric liver transplants: Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh at UPMC. No hospital earned a “better than expected” for pediatric heart transplants.

In the five-tier system, seven hospitals earned a five score for pediatric liver or heart transplants. Those hospitals are listed below, in the order from SRTR.


Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh at UPMC

Jackson Memorial Hospital University of Miami School of Medicine

Boston Children’s Hospital

Children’s Medical Center of Dallas


UF Health Shands Hospital (Gainesville, Fla.)

NY Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center (New York City)

Children’s Hospital Colorado (Aurora)

More articles on hospital ratings and rankings:
NRHA: Top 20 Rural Community Hospitals in US 2017
25 most valuable healthcare brands in the world
Truven Health Analytics names 100 Top Hospitals for 2017

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Hope’s gift of life: Gainesville teen waits on transplant list – Gainesville Times

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An emotional phone call came a day too late for Hope Kienle.

Hope, a 14-year-old at North Hall Middle School, has been on a pre-transplant waiting list for months. She’s set for a multivisceral operation that will give her a new liver, stomach, colon, pancreas and small bowel.

On a Tuesday in January, a call came in to Hope’s mother Amy Kienle about a potential donor match.

But the day before, Hope had been diagnosed with pneumonia, meaning they would have to decline the match.

“That one call changes your life,” she said. “This is the year that my life is going to be on hold.”

At 64 days old, Hope was diagnosed with biliary atresia and portal hypertension in 2003. The liver creates bile, a liquid that breaks down fats and carries waste through the rest of the body for excretion.

Amy Kienle, who is CEO of the Georgia Mountains YMCA, said Hope seemed fine at birth before she was examined at a baby wellness checkup. Hope underwent a liver transplant the next year.

A year and a half ago, however, Hope said she started feeling abdominal pain that made it difficult to breathe or eat.

“It was like being stabbed in the gut,” she said.

A dozen doctors from around the area couldn’t see anything wrong with her, Amy Kienle said, most summing it up as some sort of “stomach bug.”

“We went to probably 10 different doctor’s appointments between here and even her transplant clinic down in Atlanta at Children’s Hospital,” Amy Kienle said.

After an ultrasound, the doctors determined she did not have blood flow to her lower region. Hope underwent another seven surgeries in an effort to reopen all of the clotting in her vein.

“It’s basically a bypass through her liver to try and continue to get that blood to flow,” Amy Kienle said.

About a year ago, internal bleeding caused Hope to start passing out.

“I almost passed out in chorus at school,” Hope said, turning around and grabbing her friend’s shoulder.

Doctors at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. have recommended the “life-saving transplant,” according to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, which Amy Kienle said is expected to cost $100,000 above insurance coverage.

“They will also remove her spleen, which she has named Bob,” Amy Kienle said.

“Bag of blood,” Hope said.

The spleen has company with her liver named “Figaro,” which was named by her pediatrician.

“I don’t name all of them,” Hope said. “Just the special ones.”

Only four centers in the country do this type of transplant, Amy Kienle said. She and the family expect to be in Washington, D.C., for four to six months.

“Because the small bowel is involved, the follow-up and immediate post-transplant care is critical,” Amy Kienle said.

For an additional six months, she can’t be around people because of a weakened immune system.

“It’s a very emotional situation for us,” Amy Kienle said. “On top of the very emotional part, there’s the logistical part, which includes the financial burden of this. It’s overwhelming.”

Hope’s father Rob Kienle is North Forsyth High School girls lacrosse team coach. The team held a “Night of Hope” during the game, a fundraiser gathering more than $2,500. The money went to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, which creates an account accessible by the Kienle family for transplant-related expenses.

Giggling with her friends and fiddling with her smartphone, Hope said she’s someone who “always likes to make people happy.” But the situation for her is “scary” and said she has anxiety.

“The waiting is kind of anxious and emotional,” Amy Kienle said.

More than anything, Hope said she wants to play contact sports, which doctors advise against.

The transplant also means being away from school and friends for a year as she recuperates.

“I’m pretty sure they don’t quite understand what’s happening, but they’re probably sad that I’ll be gone,” Hope said.

Amy Kienle praised the North Hall Middle School staff for being supportive with the family preparing for medical stays.

“They said they’d work with her remotely,” she said. “They’d make sure all the work’s online so she has access to that when she’s feeling up to it.”

In school, Hope said she has enjoyed anatomy and biology, and is considering a career in medicine.   

“I know way more than I ever wanted to know about the liver,” Amy Kienle said.

Those wishing to help can send checks or money orders made to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, with the subject line “In Honor of Team Hope K.” The mailing address is 2501 West COTA Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403.

Credit card donations are also accepted at

Amy Kienle also encourages members of the community to consider becoming an organ donor.

Ways of sharing: Worcester cousins wait for life-saving organ transplants – Worcester Telegram

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WORCESTER — The cousins played happily, sharing Oreo cookies and toys in the adjacent room of the apartment on the third floor of a Sigourney Street triple decker.

Meanwhile, their parents talked about something they were sharing: the anxious wait for word that their respective children would be saved by an organ transplant.

“She’s a big support to me just like I am to her,” said Rebecca Williams, 28, of her sister Sheena Sierra, 31. “Even though [the children’s] conditions are very different, we know we have to stick together for these two.”

Carlos Gerald Cecilio Rolon, “Baby Carlos,” was born Sept. 20, 2013, with a congenital heart defect consisting of a small left ventricle and underdeveloped valves and other parts of his heart. He’s had multiple heart procedures and four heart surgeries, which have allowed him to leave the hospital and run and play just like any other preschooler. But he is now in heart failure and on the waiting list for a heart transplant.

His cousin, Rebecca Lucia Pagan-Williams, was born June 13, 2015, and within a few weeks was diagnosed with a rare liver disease called biliary atresia. “Baby Rebecca” is also home and just learning how to walk. But she has cirrhosis of the liver and is on the waiting list for a liver transplant. 

Neither condition is believed to be caused by genetics. 

Meanwhile, Ms. Williams and Ms. Sierra have strengthened their sisterly bond, as their children’s conditions have given them more in common than just blood.

Biliary atresia

Biliary atresia is a disease where either in utero or soon after birth, a child’s bile ducts are either not present or destroyed in the first few weeks of life. This leads to the baby being jaundiced, as bile cannot drain out of the liver into the intestine.

Biliary atresia occurs in about 1 out of 10,000 live births, and is the leading cause of liver transplantation in kids, according to Dr. Scott Elisofon, Medical Director of the Liver Transplant Program at Boston Children’s Hospital.

There are two ways to treat the disease. The first is through surgery – called the Kasai procedure – which has about a 50 percent success rate, according to Dr. Elisofon.

This surgery was done when Baby Rebecca was 6-weeks old and was unsuccessful. This leaves her with the second option: a liver transplant.

Most biliary atresia patients needing a liver transplant will need the transplant by two years of age. The transplant will cure the biliary atresia and transplant recipients can live many years on a transplanted liver, Dr. Elisofon said.

Baby Rebecca turns two in June. It is unclear how long her current liver will hold out.

“She’s jaundiced, having some issues with weight gain and growth, but her liver is still functioning enough to keep her moving along,” Dr. Elisofon said.

Nevertheless, he noted that – although livers can be donated from live donors – there are not enough donated livers to give to everybody in need.

Supporting roles

But the recent bonds between the two sisters strengthened before the biliary atresia diagnosis.

The bonds first strengthened when Ms. Sierra learned that Baby Carlos would be born with a serious heart defect.

“I was real, real lost,” said Ms. Sierra. “But the first thing I thought of was my sister because she had already gone through it.”

Ms. Williams’ first child, Robert, died of a heart condition just eight days after being born in 2004. He didn’t have the same heart condition as Baby Carlos; but many of the emotions and experiences – dealing with doctor’s appointments, weighing surgeries, and more – were similar, Ms. Sierra said.

“Basically, I would say it’s fair to say she gave me a lot of emotional support,” Ms. Sierra said. “And she also helped with the whole part of acceptance.”

But the tables soon turned: an ultrasound revealed that Baby Rebecca also had a heart defect.

“I was just like, ‘not again, I can’t do this again,’” Ms. Williams said. So she called Ms. Sierra. “The same things I told her she was repeating back to me – ‘Don’t give up,’ and all that stuff,” Ms. Williams continued.

Thankfully, Baby Rebecca’s heart condition required monitoring rather than surgical intervention. But a few weeks after birth, Baby Rebecca was diagnosed with biliary atresia.

Ironically, the sisters found themselves in the hospital at the same time as their respective children underwent surgeries – Baby Rebecca with the Kasai procedure and Baby Carlos with his fourth heart surgery.

“It was the luck of the draw,” Ms. Sierra said.

Familiar waiting game

But now both families are waiting for a little luck that organ donors will be found.

Again, they have shared a lot of experiences.

Like Baby Carlos, Baby Rebecca has used a feeding tube, requires frequent hospital visits when her condition worsens – lately a 48-hour stay every four weeks for Baby Rebecca, Ms. Williams said – and receives palliative care.

Both children’s skin is also tinged: Baby Carlos’ skin can be tinged blue due to a lack of circulating oxygen, and Baby Rebecca’s skin is tinged yellow due to jaundice.

“She should be as light as me,” Ms. Williams said.

Both Ms. Williams and Ms. Sierra said they have experienced depression at times during their respective children’s illnesses. And both are trying to manage care of a sick and frequently hospitalized child while also caring for two other healthy children.

But most importantly, Baby Carlos and Baby Rebecca share one thing: they are both fighters, their parents agreed.

“Their sickest days, they still manage to smile,” Ms. Sierra said.

Community support

Ms. Sierra also understands the financial difficulty of having a child who is frequently hospitalized. And she understands that many people want to help.

So the two held a community fundraiser on March 18 to help both children, with a goal of raising a total of $25,000 so that Ms. Williams and Ms. Sierra can stay at their children’s bedside when a hospitalization occurs. Ms. Williams is a full-time mom, Ms. Sierra is a single mother and works nights.

But perhaps the most valuable way that Ms. Sierra has been able to support her sister and niece is by connecting them with a potential donor.

Ms. Williams shared a newspaper article about a Holden woman named Marybeth Sbrogna who was planning on donating a portion of her liver to a child with biliary atresia. Ms. Sierra reached out to Ms. Sbrogna and explained Ms. Williams’ situation, hoping that Ms. Sbrogna could give Ms. Williams hope that a donor would be found for Baby Rebecca.

Then four days before Ms. Sbrogna was scheduled to go into surgery for the transplant, the intended recipient received another donation.

“As soon as I found that out, I knew I was going to donate to Baby Rebecca,” Ms. Sbrogna said. “If I can prevent [Ms. Williams] from having to lose another child, I’ll do anything in my power to do that.”

Ms. Sbrogna said she has been approved as a donor. Baby Rebecca still has to go for further testing, according to Ms. Williams. Dr. Elisofon said the hospital is “in the process of determining whether Ms. Sbrogna’s liver will be a good fit for [Baby] Rebecca.”

Ms. Williams said she is trying not to get too excited, as one never knows what can happen. Another of her sisters was ready to be a donor, but it didn’t work out. Another time baby Rebecca had to refuse a transplant because she was sick with a cold, Ms. Williams said.

But Ms. Williams said she also had some good inspiration to stay positive: her daughter.

“She just keeps on pushing, she’s not giving up on me one bit,” Ms. Williams said.

Transplant Families Resource Fair in Phoenix

Transplant Families Resource Fair in Phoenix
Phoenix, AZ––Transplant families will be hosting a community resource fair, April 4th.

This free event will be held 5:30 to 7:30 pm that Tuesday. The resource fair is intended to inform transplant families and the public of the many services available to them throughout the community. It will be located at Phoenix Children’s hospital with assistance from the Amanda Hope Rainbow Angels.

The event will feature booths and displays representing various community resources and programs that can provide assistance, advice and support.  Families will be awarded several different raffles by our generous booth partners.

Participating organizations will include Phoenix Children’s HospitalAmanda Hope Rainbow Angels, HopeKids, Children’s Organ Transplant Association, Make A Wish Arizona, Donate Life Arizona, Be the Match, New Life Society, Transplant Team AZ, National Kidney Foundation of Arizona, Mended Little Hearts of Phoenix and many more.  Our main speaker will be from dermatology and will cover sun and skin safety for transplant patients.  Resources will be available to cover topics such as camp, scholarships and many other programs.

Transplant families wants to give families every resource available and a chance to connect with other families living this very unique life.  We want the chance to celebrate each other and the tremendous gift of life that our kids have been afforded.

To attend the event, you must be an Arizona transplant family.  For more information on attendance please RSVP via or if you are a HopeKids member via their website.  If you are interested in providing information to transplant families at this event or would like to hold an event like this in your area, please contact Melissa McQueen at

Transplant Resource fair flyer 2017 Final


Penn researchers discover test for earlier detection of transplant rejection – EurekAlert (press release)

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PHILADELPHIA– Approximately 30,000 organ transplants occur in the United States each year. However, between 20 and 50 percent–depending on the organ type–of the transplanted organs fail within five years, most often because the recipient’s immune system attacks, or “rejects,” the donated organ. Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have discovered a method that appears to provide earlier warning of organ transplant rejection compared to standard methods, and requires only a blood test rather than a more invasive and painful needle biopsy. This new method is detailed in a study published today online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

If the validity of the new approach for detecting transplant rejection is confirmed in further studies, it could enable doctors to keep transplant recipients healthier and their transplants working longer. A better biomarker would allow doctors to reverse rejection episodes in many of these cases using immunosuppressive drugs.

“There is a critical need for a biomarker that will work across the entire field of transplantation and will allow us to detect rejection and intervene much sooner than we are currently able to,” said lead author Prashanth Vallabhajosyula, MD, an assistant professor of Cardiovascular Surgery. “We think our proposed biomarker platform could fulfill that need.”

In principle, when doctors are able to detect rejection episodes earlier and intervene more effectively, transplant recipients also will be able to use lower maintenance doses of immunosuppressive drugs when rejection is not occurring. That will help them avoid the long-term side effects of these drugs which include cancers, high blood pressure, opportunistic infections, and kidney damage.

The new method involves tiny, capsule-like structures known as exosomes, which normally are secreted from most types of cell. Precisely what exosomes evolved to do isn’t clear, but scientists know that these capsules contain proteins and other molecules from their mother cell that can influence the activities of neighboring cells. Like their mother cells, exosomes have protein markers on their surfaces — often called MHC antigens — that identify them to the immune system as part of the body. Just as donor and host cells usually differ in their MHC markers, so do donor and host exosomes. In this study, the researchers reasoned that donor exosomes’ distinct surface markings would allow these tiny structures to be detected in blood tests and potentially used to predict transplant rejection episodes.

Using a standard laboratory model in which human pancreatic islet cells–key producers of insulin–are transplanted into mice, researchers showed that they could indeed detect and quantify the exosomes from the donated human cells in the blood of the mice. Moreover, when the researchers induced an immune rejection of the transplants in the mice, the detected levels of transplanted-islet exosomes dropped sharply and almost immediately. “The levels of those exosomes in the bloodstream changed dramatically, well before we saw changes in other current clinical markers such as fasting glucose levels,” Vallabhajosyula said.

He added that the reason for the sudden drop isn’t clear–since it happened before there was evident damage to the transplanted islet cells–but probably in part involved a reduced production of the exosomes by the cells.

In an initial exploration of the transplant-exosome strategy in people, the researchers examined stored blood plasma samples from five recipients of transplanted islet cells in an NIH clinical trial, and were able to detect donor exosomes in these samples following the transplants. They also found some preliminary evidence that their falling-exosome measure could be useful in predicting transplant rejection in people. For one patient who experienced a rejection of the transplanted islet cells, a steep drop in the level of donor exosomes was detectable in a blood sample taken six and a half months before the transplanted cells stopped working and the patient developed clinical signs of diabetes.

In further experiments using the human-to-mouse transplant model, the team were able to analyze the contents of donor exosomes in the blood of recipient mice. They found that these islet cell exosomes carried dozens of distinct molecules including insulin and other endocrine hormones — and that the composition of this “cargo” changed during transplant rejection, causing sharp increases, for example, in the levels of several dozen molecules normally found in the exosomes.

Researchers suspect that taking these changes into account could enhance the reliability of a transplant rejection early-warning test, but may be even more helpful in identifying the specific type of injury sustained by the transplant–discriminating, for example, an injury due to transplant rejection from a less worrisome injury due to infection.

“I believe that analyses of exosomes from transplanted organs will ultimately provide a very powerful and unprecedented ability to understand the conditional state of the organ as a whole,” said study senior author Ali Naji, MD, PhD, the J. William White Professor of Surgery.

In a quick test of the breadth of their approach, the researchers showed that they could isolate and detect donor-tissue exosomes in a different type of transplant: kidney transplant, currently the most common type of organ transplant. In this case, the team found that they could isolate and quantify donor-kidney exosomes not just in blood but also in urine, thus potentially enabling urine tests which are even less invasive than blood tests.

The team are now following up with further studies, including studies of their method with different types of transplantation, and studies of specific cargoes of transplant exosomes.

Vallabhajosyula added that, in addition to the potential of the transplant-exosome approach as a diagnostic tool, it may be useful generally in furthering the scientific understanding of transplant biology.

“The ability to isolate and analyze tissue-specific exosomes opens a window to understanding their roles in transplant rejection and transplant tolerance,” he said.


Additional Penn authors on the study include Laxminarayana Korutla, Andreas Habertheuer, Ming Yu, Susan Rostami, Chao-Xing Yuan, Sanjana Reddy, Chengyang Liu, Varun Korutla, Brigitte Koeberlein, Jennifer Trofe-Clark, and Michael R. Rickels. Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (R21 AI11010-01 ) (U01 DK070430) and the NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases/City of Hope Integrated Islet Distribu¬tion Program (UL1 TR000003)(P30 DK19525).

Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report‘s survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation’s top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center — which are recognized as one of the nation’s top “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report — Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital — the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.