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Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center Receives $800,000 from Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence - Archived


Louisville, Ky. (October 28, 2013) — The Trager Transplant Center at Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, has received an $800,000 grant from the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence to provide a new treatment option for patients with chronic pancreatitis.


The Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center, a joint program with the University of Louisville School of Medicine, is working collaboratively with research partners at the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute to pioneer the use of islet auto-transplantation in the treatment of chronic pancreatitis, a debilitating and painful disease. The grant will fund 24 pancreas islet cell auto-transplants over the next two years, the first of such procedures in Kentucky.


“Research on auto-transplantation of islet cells in the pancreas is only being conducted in a hand-full of research facilities around the world,” said Charles Peck, M.D., interim president, Jewish Hospital. “The generous funding from the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence will help us to become a regional leader in the treatment of pancreatitis.”


Chronic pancreatitis can only be cured with complete removal of the pancreas. However, removing the entire pancreas creates diabetes that is extremely difficult to control, with alternating very high and dangerous, life threatening low blood sugars. Therefore, only a portion of the pancreas is typically removed in an attempt to prevent post-operative diabetes. This treatment does not effectively treat the episodes of recurrent pain that leads to recurrent hospital admissions for patients with chronic pancreatitis.


The alternative to the current medical protocols is auto-transplantation of islet cells from the pancreas. Auto-transplantation of islet cells involves complete removal of the pancreas. The islet cells are isolated, and then re-implanted into the patient to prevent diabetes.


The transplantation of the islets has the potential to eliminate much of the need for a pancreas transplant in suffering patients. Since the process involves the re-implantation of the patient’s own cells, the patient will not have to take immunosuppressive medication to ensure the viability of the treatment (as a pancreas transplant patient would be required to take).


“In addition to helping patients with chronic pancreatitis, the auto-transplantation of pancreas islet cells has the potential to impact diabetes type 1 in some significant ways,” Michael G. Hughes, Jr., M.D., transplant surgeon, the Trager Transplant Center at Jewish Hospital and assistant professor of surgery, University of Louisville. “The techniques and skills acquired in auto-transplantation may be applied to patients with diabetes in the future.”


The Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence provides financial assistance to not-for-profit organizations offering programs focused on Jewish culture/identity, health, human services and education.


“Funding medical research presents a new opportunity for our organization to impact the health of the community,” said Louis Waterman, board chair, Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence. “We are excited to see how the collaborative work of the Trager Transplant Center and the CII can impact the future treatment of patients with chronic pancreatitis and potentially type 1 diabetes.”


Referring physicians or patients with chronic pancreatitis can learn more about the procedure by calling 502.407.3220.


About KentuckyOne Health KentuckyOne Health was formed when two major Kentucky health care organizations came together in early 2012. KentuckyOne Health combines the Jewish and Catholic heritages of the two former systems – Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and Saint Joseph Health System. In late 2012, the organization formed a partnership with the University of Louisville Hospital | James Graham Brown Cancer Center. The nonprofit system is committed to improving the health of Kentuckians by integrating medical research, education, technology and health care services wherever patients receive care. KentuckyOne Health has more than 200 locations including hospitals, physician groups, clinics, primary care centers, specialty institutes and home health agencies, with nearly 15,000 employees across the state of Kentucky and southern Indiana. KentuckyOne Health is the largest health system in Kentucky.


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