William Chapman, MD, named Eugene M. Bricker Chair of Surgery

July 30, 2012


Will Chapman, MD, is the new Eugene Bricker Chair of Surgery

Congratulations to William Chapman, MD, the new Eugene M. Bricker Chair of Surgery at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.

Dr. Chapman is chief of the division of general surgery and section of transplantation and the surgical director of the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital Transplant Center Program. Dr. Chapman was recruited to Washington University as professor and chief of the section of abdominal transplantation in 2002. In 2009, he was named surgical director of the newly established Transplant Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

The Eugene M. Bricker endowed chair was established by the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital in memory of Dr. Eugene M. Bricker, a brilliant surgeon and renowned professor of surgery whose medical career at Barnes-Jewish and Washington University School of Medicine spanned more than 60 years. Hundreds of medical students trained under Dr. Bricker, who is remembered as a compassionate teacher and role model.

Dr. Chapman specializes in liver transplantation for adults and children (living donor, living adult donor and adult-to-adult donor), hepatobiliary surgery and liver surgery.  Support from the Bricker chair will enable Dr. Chapman to further his research in ischemia reperfusion injury and molecular markers of hepatocellular cancer. 

For more about Dr. Chapman, watch this video here:

Canadian transplant healthcare – one model the US might not want to copy

January 23, 2012

There’s a debate raging right now over whether the U.S. should build a pipeline  to make export of oil extracted from Canada’s oil sands easier. As this story in the Toronto Star points out that Canada’s transplant waiting list problem is one thing we definitely don’t need to import.

While the Canadian government’s socialized medicine program insures that everyone will get the health care they need, it doesn’t guarantee when. Transplant candidates, it turns out, may wait a very long time.

Part of the problem could be Canada’s surprisingly low organ donation rate.  Canada’s  is half that of the United States and one of the lowest in the

International organ donation rates

developed world.

As the chart above from the London, ON, Health Centre shows, London, a city of almost 500,000 people about an hour and a half north of Detroit, has a very high rate of organ donation. But the rest of the country’s rate is quite low, which is very interesting when you know that some pioneering work in organ transplant was done in Canada.

(Do you know: Which Washington University transplant doctor is from Canada and was involved in that pioneering work? Answer tomorrow.)

Milestone year for lung transplant at Barnes-Jewish

January 20, 2012

Last year was a very good year for lung transplant at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Usually, the program averages about 55 transplants a year. But in 2011, Washington University surgeons performed 75 transplant procedures – the most in the program’s 23-year history.

Why the big jump?

It was a combination of having both a large number of donor organs available and a big enough pool of potential recipients to use those organs, say the transplant doctors.

Dr. Alec Patterson, Washington University chief of the division of cardiothoracic surgery, credits the robust efforts of Mid-America Transplant Services (MTS), the area’s organ procurement organization.

“MTS does an outstanding job in donor indentification and management,” he says.

Having a large pool of people on the waiting list at Barnes-Jewish Hospital increased the likelihood of availabe donor organs actually being used, says Washington University surgeon Dr.  Bryan Meyers,  section chief of cardiothoracic surgery.

“The best insurance a program has for the full utilization of potential donor lungs is to have a deep cohort of patients awaiting transplantation,” says Meyers. “There are often issues that make one potential recipient unsuitable for a specific set of donor lungs. If you have a small number of potential recipients, you are bound to get offers for lungs that you cannot use because of issues like those. However, with a larger cadre of potential recipients, you are far less likely to ‘pass’ when offered some donor lungs.”

To be able to have that large pool of patients, you need the medical staff t0 manage the care of those patients and make sure that they’re in the best shape possible before surgery, so that they survive the operation and then do well after surgery.

Meyers credits the Washington University transplant pulmonologists, led by Dr. Bert Trulock for doing just that.

“Our pulmonology team spends countless hours in clinic managing for this large and complex group of potential recipients, preparing them for eventual transplantation,” says Meyers. “Their management of post-transplant care gives patients the best chance for excellent outcomes.”

Then, of course, you need to have enough surgeons on hand to be able to transplant any lung that become available.  

“We currently have five thoracic surgeons who are involved in the lung transplant operations,” Meyers says. “This deep pool of surgeons makes it highly unlikely that we might lose out on a potentially useful donor due to the lack of availability of a surgeon. While this event would have been rare in the past, it is virtually impossible now with the current staffing of thoracic surgeons.”

Watch here to see what Dr. Meyers takes great pride in:


Should transplant patients get flu shots?

October 17, 2011

Roll up your sleeves, transplant patients! You need your flu shot – maybe more than other folks.

This comes from Dr. Ramsey Hachem, Washington University pulmonologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

People seem to have excuses every year as to why they don’t need a flu shot – flu shots make them feel sick, they never get the flu, it’s inconvenient, they’re just tired of getting stuck.

Sorry, we aren’t buying any of it.

Influenza is a deceptively devastating illness. For many of its victims, it’s ends up being a week or two of fever, aches, chills, sore throat, coughing and general misery. 

But for people with weakened immune systems, it can be much worse, says Dr. Hachen.  Transplant patients, this means YOU.

People on immunosuppressants are more likely to catch the flu, he says. Then, in these patients, the flu is more likely to lead to complications  including sinus and ear infections and pneumonia. These complications, in someone whose immune system is impaired, are more likely to be severe and lead to hospitalizations.

The Centers for Disease Control’s flu information site recommends that EVERYONE over age six months get vaccinated.

The only caveat, says Dr. Hachem, is that transplant patients, ideally, should get a vaccine with a dead virus. Flu vaccines work by using dead influenza viruses to  trick the body into making antibodies against the flu. The only exception is inhaled vaccine, or FluMist, which uses a weakened live virus.

The problem with FluMist is that in rare cases, it can actually cause flu symptoms. Although it’s unlikely to cause the actual illness, transplant patients and others with weak immune systems shouldn’t take the chance.

S0, if you haven’t already, get that shot and stay healthy through this flu season.

There are still opportunities to get free flu shots supplied by the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Check here for dates and times.

Physician of the week: Dr. Jeffrey Lowell

September 27, 2011

Here’s a little test. Which of the following does not apply to Washington

Biker Dr. Jeff Lowell (right) with fellow transplant surgeons at the MS150

University transplant surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Lowell?

a. He’s a Navy reservist who recently completed a six-month tour in Germany, operating on soldiers evacuated from combat zones.

b. He’s a black belt in karate.

c. He was a member of the St. Louis City Police hostage negotiation team.

d. He was medical emergency preparedness advisor to then-Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

d. He has a brother who’s not a doctor, but has played on TV (as a guest star on “Bones.”)

e. One time, he did something only halfway.

If you picked “e,” you’re correct.  Dr. Lowell never does things halfway.

That includes saving lives by transplanting livers and kidneys at both Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

We could keep listing his accomplishments – like director of the regional medical emergency response team, fencer, runner, husband and father, etc. – but space is limited.

So watch the video and hear about how he approaches his “day job.”

Dr. Crippin is physician of the week

September 19, 2011

Washington University physician Dr. Jeffrey Crippin is the medical director of liver transplant at Barnes-Jewish. He’s also a nationally known hepatologist, recognized for being a leader in the treatment of hepatitis C  and liver cancer in transplant patients and for helping to shape transplant policy in the U.S.  On top of that, his patients will tell you he’s just a great person.

He’s this week’s  featured physician on our Touching Base blog. Check it out.

Hep C quiz – how much do you know?

September 13, 2011

Dr. Jeffrey Crippin

Yesterday afternoon, we shot an interview with Washington University physician Dr. Jeff Crippin, the medical  director of liver transplant here at Barnes-Jewish. He talked to us about hepatitis C. We should have that video ready to show you in a few weeks.

In the meantime, we got some interesting facts from Dr. Crippin to will test your hep C knowledge:

1. Hepatitis C is the leading reason for liver transplant in the U.S.  True or False?

2. The hep C rate  is dramatically increasing in the U. S.  True or False?

3. Eating food handled by an infected person, sexual contact and using an unclean public bathroom are all common ways of contracting hep C.  True or False?

4.  Alcohol can make hep C worse. True or False?

5. You can be infected with hep C for decades without having symptoms. True or False.

6. Hep C is an incurable disease. True or False?


1. True.  Currently, liver failure due to damage caused by hep C is the leading reason for liver transplant in the U.S.

2. False. Since 1992, when a test was developed to screen for hep C antibodies in donated blood, hep C cases caused by tainted blood transfusions have been virtually eliminated. This has led to an overall decline in the rate of hep C in the U.S.

3. False. The hepatitis C virus is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact. Intravenous drug use, tattoos using a contaminated needle, needle stick injuries to healthcare workers and transfusions before 1992 are common means of transmission for hep C.

4. True. Drinking alcohol can damage the liver and can cause hep C to progress faster.

5. True. Hep C can be present in a patient for 20 years or more before symptoms appear. For many patients, the first symptom is liver damage.

6. False. Hepatitis C can be treated with a combination of two drugs, interferon and ribavirin. Some patients may also get a drug called a protease inhibitor. In up to 80 percent of patients, these drug clear the virus from the system. For many of the patients who respond to these drugs, the virus never returns and the patients are considered cured.

How’d you do? If you missed any of the questions, you’ll want to make sure you don’t miss Dr. Crippin’s video!

-Kathryn Holleman


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