One dinner party. Three transplants. Six lives changed.

By Mark Menotti, Director of Clinical Transplant Services at OHSU

More than 100,000 people in America are waiting for a kidney transplant; sadly, about 13 of these patients die every day because there aren’t enough organ donors.  Many kidney patients have someone who is willing to donate, but because of immune system or blood type incompatibilities, they are not able to give a kidney to their loved one.

The National Kidney Paired Exchanges were created to help.  

Kidney paired donation matches one incompatible donor/recipient pair to another pair in the same situation, so that the donor of the first pair gives to the recipient of the second, and vice versa.  In other words, the two pairs swap kidneys, regardless of where they are located.

Ray and his donor, Kendal.

Paired exchanges also utilize altruistic, or good Samaritan donors.  Altruistic donors are able to start new “chains” through their donation into the exchange itself, versus donating to a specific recipient.   

Sound complicated?  It is!

These transplants involve many additional hours of planning, coordination, and scheduling on the part of countless departments at OHSU and the other transplant centers.

OHSU’s nationally-regarded kidney transplant program is now participating in the paired exchanges.  We recently performed both “paired exchange” and “altruistic chain” transplants.

A fortuitous dinner party.

Our first two OHSU donors were involved in an “internal chain”transplant in early December, which actually started at a party in early 2014.  Donor A’s intended recipient was incompatible. That recipient had been fortunate to find another, compatible donor and was successfully transplanted.

Donor A didn’t stop there, however; they chose to be an altruistic donor and started a new chain.  They matched a recipient with an incompatible donor, whose donor then closed the chain by donating to an unknown recipient on the waiting list. All the surgeries were performed here at OHSU on the same day (watch a FOX 12 news story to meet the recipients and donors).

Six people are now linked together by three living kidney donors.

The very next week, OHSU performed our first “paired exchange” transplant with Swedish hospital in Seattle.  An incompatible donor-recipient pair from OHSU and two other such pairs from Washington state were matched.

All six surgeries were scheduled on the same day, with the donor kidneys being shipped to their compatible recipients. Through this exchange, three recipients got off the waiting list and three donors were able to help their loved one receive a living donor transplant (read the Seattle Times article to learn about the donors and recipients).

I am very happy to report that all patients, both recipients and donors, are doing great!

Click here to learn more about OHSU”s Clinical Transplant Services.

Dine out for life with the OHSU Partnership Project

For it’s 7th year Dining Out For Life comes to Portland on Thursday, April 30, 2015.

In the early 1990s, AIDS looked very different than it does today. In Oregon, approximately 350 people were dying a year from AIDS. Today, fewer than 100 Oregonians are dying from AIDS, thanks to a number of advancements:

  • The development of medications successfully fighting the virus
  • Increased testing, so people know their status earlier
  • Systems put into place, linking people to care when they test HIV+
  • Systems supporting people’s efforts to reach 100% adherence to their medication

Both OHSU/Partnership Project and EMO’s HIV Day Center have been part of the HIV system of care in Portland helping thousands of persons living with HIV/AIDS live healthy lives since the early 1990s.

While these organizations are small in staffing and budgets, they stretch grant and fundraising dollars as far as possible to provide critical services.  In 2009, these organizations came together to produce the 1st Dining Out for Life in Portland.

The national event started in 1991 in Philadelphia by Action AIDS and is now in 60 cities across the country!

How can you participate?

Dine Out at a participating restaurant during breakfast, lunch or dinner!  Each location is donating between 20-30% of your bill to EMO’s HIV Day Center and Partnership Project .

Partnership Project

The program is in its 18th year of providing critical services to HIV positive individuals in the Portland Metro area. Last year 950 people living with HIV/AIDS were served through our Social Work and Nursing Case Management services.

We help individuals get into medical care, maintain insurance, take their medications and connect to essential supportive services.  We also provide risk reduction counseling.

EMO’s HIV Day Center

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the center is the oldest multi-service drop in center for low-income individuals infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in the United States.

The Center serves approximately 300 people yearly, providing them with two hot meals a day, information and referral services, computer and internet access, phones, shower and laundry facilities and recovery support as well as volunteer professionals who provide services such as massage therapy, acupuncture and haircuts. The Daily Bread Express program delivers weekly meals and supplemental groceries to more than 60 homebound individuals.

Learn more by visiting and


Julia Lager-Mesulam, LCSW is the Director of OHSU/Partnership Project. Julia has been with OHSU/Partnership Project since 2000 and working in the field of HIV/AIDS since 1994.  Partnership Project is a multi-health care consortium housed within OHSU that was developed in 1995 and provides medical case management to approximately 900 Persons Living with HIV/AIDS annually. 


OHSU Casey Eye Institute Collaborates with American Samoa

On April 14, the OHSU Casey Eye Institute community gathered to celebrate our growing collaboration with the health care community in American Samoa.

Our initial program with the good people of American Samoa is wrapping up this month as Dr. Benjamin Siatu’u finishes his intensive ophthalmology training in Oregon.  A surgeon from American Samoa, he has spent the last four years at OHSU acquiring the specialized skills needed to provide eye care in this distant U.S. territory.  He will be returning to his home in the South Pacific to finish his training with support from Casey Eye faculty members.

The ceremony not only honored Dr. Siatu’u’s accomplishments, but marks the beginning of Casey’s long-term partnership with the medical community in American Samoa – a relationship that signifies a major step forward in our mission to address avoidable blindness abroad.

When it comes to eye care, American Samoans are arguably one of the most underserved populations in the United States.  

During my three years as an ophthalmologist at the Lyndon B. Johnson Tropical Medical Center – the territory’s only health care facility – I saw firsthand the immense challenges posed by the region’s isolation, and the unique health problems of its people.  Nearly half of the adults in American Samoa suffer from diabetes and are at risk of losing eyesight from its complications.

American Samoa also has one of the highest rates in the world of pterygium: an eye growth on the cornea caused from sun exposure.  These and other conditions, such as cataract and eye trauma, contribute to the islands’ large burden of eye disease and vision loss.

Dr. “Ben” (as he likes to be called) will be one of only two eye doctors serving American Samoa’s 55,000 residents, and its only eye surgeon.  While his background, medical skills and strength of character make him ideally suited for his new role, he will also need the backing of a high quality health care system to successfully care for his people.

Working with Dr. Siatu’u and relying on his expertise as a Samoan practitioner, the Casey Eye Institute is partnering with American Samoa to build up the other critical components of a regional eye care program.

For example, we are designing training programs for clinical and operating room staff.  These programs will let Dr. Ben’s team ramp up the quality and efficiency of patient care in the hospital there. We will teach technicians how to properly maintain delicate equipment like slit lamps and surgical microscopes, which can be easily damaged from the islands’ humid climate and periodic electrical surges.

Public health education and eye health screening campaigns are also in the works, as the local public health and community groups on these islands welcome Casey as a proven and trusted partner in the territory.

Our U.S. – based ophthalmology residency program is a key element in this collaboration.

Casey residents who opt for an international elective in American Samoa will hone their diagnostic and treatment skills in a diverse health care setting with limited medical resources.  These residents will have the opportunity to treat patients with unusual and often severe eye diseases, and to build surgical abilities where surgical services are in dire need.

To help fund these programs, we are seeking grants from the USDA, World Health Organization and other agencies.  We also rely on philanthropic support here in Oregon to keep this program moving forward.

This is an exciting new chapter in Casey’s outreach efforts, an idea conceived and nurtured by our Chairman, David Wilson, M.D., and enthusiastically embraced by the Casey’s faculty, staff and ophthalmology residents.

American Samoa may be on the other side of the equator, but we are working together to reach our shared vision of ending avoidable blindness for many years to come.



Mitchell Brinks, M.D., M.P.H., is assistant professor of ophthalmology at OHSU Casey Eye Institute, where he specializes in comprehensive ophthalmology and is co-director of the International Ophthalmology program. His international teaching and research activities have taken him to Cambodia, Bhutan, East Timor, Guatemala the Marshall Islands and the Samoas. 

OHSU Nursing student shows off-the-clock heroism

Driving home from the Portland airport one night not long ago, Christina Carmichael, Bachelor of Science with a major in nursing student on the OHSU Monmouth campus, saw something strange on Interstate-5 near Albany.

A flash of pink jacket and then a flip of dark hair popped out from behind an orange construction drum repetitively. Soon she identified it as a woman rocking back and forth.

Carmichael immediately assessed the situation and saw a young woman in need. Two motorists had already pulled over, but Carmichael also wanted to help. First she dialed 9-1-1 and reported the incident and then further assessed the scene for possible danger.

Carmichael credits her nursing education from OHSU Monmouth for training her to assess and safely implement interventions in critical situations.

Carmichael says, “The situation escalated and the woman walked onto the freeway. Headlights in the distance, officers were not going to get to her before the next car came. I had to decide if there was enough time for me to get to her or if I needed to prepare as a first responder.”

Carmichael is currently assigned to clinicals at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in the ICU where she cares for critical patients. “I saw the opportunity and ran to hoist her up and out of the road.”

The woman was in pain and Carmichael knew that she wasn’t happy to be out of harm’s way, but refused to let her hurt herself or passers-by. Carmichael stayed with her until officers arrived.

The young woman, just 18, was not cooperative and yelled, “kill me, kill me, shoot me.” Carmichael reminded the officers that this was likely a mental health issue, a child in need.

Most people are not qualified to step in during situations like these and the best response is to call police. Carmichael had specific training to deal with issues like this.

In this case, Carmichael’s actions likely made the difference between life and death for this young woman.

The original news story can be found on the Register-Guard’s web site. And click here to read more about Christina Carmichael via OHSU’s School of Nursing.



Christi Richardson-Zboralski is the Web and Communications Specialist for the OHSU School of Nursing. She manages the School’s newsletter, maintains the website and manages all social media and communications.

OHSU celebrates Volunteer Week

The word “volunteer” was first used around the year 1600 and comes from the Latin “of one’s free will.” Years later, the state of Tennessee became known as the “Volunteer State,” when – during the Mexican war – a call for 2,800 volunteers brought forth nearly 30,000 men.

Every year, hundreds of Oregonians freely offer up their valuable time and resources to support our patients, staff and students. When we make the call, OHSU volunteers respond.

About 500 active OHSU volunteers average nearly 70,000 hours of service each year, including 14 animal assisted therapy teams (meet one below, who’s been bringing furry joy to OHSU patients for 22 years!).

In honor of Volunteer Week, we’re taking a moment to say thank you and recognize just a handful of the special people who selflessly serve our community.

Volunteer: Lyrrel Lombard

Years of Service: 15

Volunteer Type: Baby Cuddler, OHSU Doernbecher Neonatal Care Center (DNCC).

Every week, Lyrrel Lombard heads for the DNCC, where she volunteers her time assisting NICU staff by holding tiny patients, keeping pacifiers in, amusing babies who are awake or singing them to sleep. A former school counselor, Lyrrel has six grandchildren and a great-grandchild of her own. Although she loves the time she spends with patients, her favorite part is watching families head home with their infants. “Leaving,” she said, “is joyous.”


Volunteer: Bruce Reed

Years of Service: 24

Volunteer Type: Information Desk, OHSU Casey Eye Institute.

Bruce Reed serves at the Casey’s Information Desk, where he gives directions, answers questions and helps patients to their cars. A member of the Elks since 1955, 86-year-old Bruce is passionate about pediatric eye health. His favorite part of his job is seeing lives improved through the work being done at OHSU. “It’s been a great experience working here,” Bruce said. “Great place, great people, great function.” Click here to learn more about how the Elks support OHSU’s Casey Eye Institute.


Volunteer: Huck Finn

Years of Service: 4 (Carol, his pet parent, has volunteered for 22!)

Volunteer Type: Animal Assisted Therapy Cat.

If you spend any time on the 10th floor of OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, you’ll likely run into Huck Finn – a quiet, laid-back cat with a checkered past. Huck loves getting wheeled around, bringing smiles to passing patients, or lying on kids’ beds to be petted. So, with all of that chauffering, can Huck walk? Rest assured, Huck gets his daily exercise from what Carol calls his “wild and crazy period,” about 30 seconds each day. Learn more about Huck here!


Volunteer: Jennifer Thornton

Years of Service: 7

Volunteer Type: Chemo Pal with Children’s Cancer Association. The Chemo Pals program matches adults with kids undergoing cancer treatment.

Jennifer Thornton is one of many OHSU employees, who volunteer as a Chemo Pal mentor. What does Jennifer love best about being a volunteer? “Their smile as soon as you walk into the room is priceless. Chemo Pals can bring so much joy in those difficult times. Kids don’t want to be sick or constantly poked at the doctor’s office, but they can count on us to bring their favorite toys and games to make their day a little better.” Click here to meet more Chemo Pal mentors, and here to learn more about how you can get involved in the program.

Volunteer: Nancy Downie

Years of Service: 4

Volunteer Type: Certified Music Practitioner, sharing the healing power of music on Bone Marrow Transplant, Adult Oncology, Cardiovascular and Orthopedics units.

Since 2011, Nancy has volunteered about 1,250 hours of her time playing the hammered dulcimer and Native American flutes across many OHSU units, as well as in the main entrance lobby during the holidays. “Something special happens just about every day,” Nancy said. Over the years, Nancy has collected a great deal of memorable moments, including meeting an elderly woman whose sister only had a few hours to live. She returned to Nancy a few minutes later to tell her, “Thank you. Your music made me feel better.”


Volunteer: Patricia O’Shea

Years of Service: 5

Volunteer Type: Brain Resource Center and BRAINet, OHSU Brain Institute.

Patricia helps maintain the library of resources available to patients with neurological disorders. “It’s a very exciting time in brain development research. There are incredible advancements that have been made in imaging techniques and other research that informs the development of targeted therapies. Researchers are chipping away at finding the underlying causes of various brain disorders. People should feel very hopeful.” Click here to learn more about Patricia and additional opportunities to volunteer with the OHSU Brain Institute.

Are you interested in becoming a volunteer at OHSU? Visit us here for more information on how to apply.
Jessica Columbo is OHSU’s Social Media Manager. She can be reached at You can also join the conversation on Facebook or follow OHSU on Twitter and Instagram.

OHSU celebrates National Doctors Day

In celebration of March 30th as National Doctors Day, we sat down with OHSU’s Dr. Nate Selden to ask what inspired him to become a physician – and what continues to inspire him in his day-to-day life as the Chair of Pediatric Neurosurgery at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and Director of OHSU’s Neurological Surgery Residency Program.

Below, find an excerpt of Dr. Selden’s post, originally published on our Doernbecher “Healthy Families” blog.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job comes in two parts. One is to see a patient back in my clinic after a challenging operation with a great outcomeWhen I can reassure parents that the prognosis is good, I see the strain and worry lift from their shoulders. And I see that the children, especially the younger ones, are simply their resilient selves, blissfully unaware of how serious their condition was. The second part is to share that experience with the resident trainees who care for children with me. Their wonder and deep satisfaction as they experience these successes for the first time are palpable. Occasionally, we inspire one of them to pursue pediatric neurosurgery, and that is a terrific endorsement of the work we do at Doernbecher.

What advice would you give aspiring physicians? 

Spend time with practicing physicians and surgeons to see what their day-to-day life is really like. Make sure you enjoy the rhythms of a normal medical routine and not just the idea of being a doctor. Medicine is a labor of love that requires diligence and resilience. If you have a passion for the work, it is its own reward.

If you would like to leave a message of thanks for an OHSU doctor, visit our Facebook page or consider giving back in your doctor’s name here.


Jessica Columbo is OHSU’s Social Media Manager. She can be reached at You can also join the conversation on Facebook or follow OHSU on Twitter and Instagram.

Join us for Nicholas Kristof’s “Pathways to Becoming a Global Citizen”

We are very pleased that New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, is the speaker for the Fifth Annual Kathryn Robertson Memorial Lecture. The title of Mr. Kristof’s talk is Pathways to Becoming a Global Citizen.

Mr. Kristof has received the Pulitzer Prize twice, once for his coverage of Tiananmen Square and again for his coverage of Darfur genocide.

The lecture is free and open to the public and will be follow by a reception and book signing.

Mr. Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn are co-authors of “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” and “The Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity.”

Please join us in the OHSU Auditorium on our Marquam Hill Campus Monday, April 20th at Noon. For more details, click here.


Dr. Andy Harris is the Interim Director of OHSU’s Global Health Center. Dr. Harris won a 2011 Purpose Prize Fellow Award in recognition of  “extraordinary achievement and continued compelling work” in founding and directing Professionals’ Training in Global Health (PTGH).

March Round-up: Brain Awareness Season and Doernbecher’s “Brave Bots”

Each month, OHSU faculty, staff and students publish exciting new research, academic advice and health stories across the blogosphere. In case you missed them, here is a round-up of some of our top blog posts of the month:

How hard could it be? OHSU School of Medicine student and mom to a toddler, Megan Thruston, shares her study habit secrets and parenting adventures – with a good dose of humor.

Wearing a properly fitted helmet every time you ride your bike reduces the chance of a traumatic brain injury by 88%! Marianne Bridwell-Chapman of the OHSU Doernbecher Tom Sargent Children’s Safety Center explains how to find the right fit – and why setting an example for your child is so critical.

Brain Awareness Season is upon us! The OHSU Brain Institute’s Bobby Heagerty provides a guide to upcoming lectures and events.

Doernbecher’s new “Brave Bot” mural is helping kids (and grown-ups!) be brave when facing serious medical challenges. Learn how the Brave Bots got started and why Nurse Manager Laura Nibert feels so strongly about empowering patients via the art installation

On March 9, Christof Koch, Ph.D. of The Allen Institute for Brain Science spoke at the Newmark Theatre as part of our 2015 Brain Awareness Lecture Series. Read a brief summary of his enlightening presentation.

Studies indicate that the Spring time change can be associated with disrupted sleep and even a suggestion of increased heart attacks soon after. Dr. Gopal Allada shares his tips to make the transition a bit easier.



Jessica Columbo is OHSU’s Social Media Manager. She can be reached at You can also join the conversation on Facebook or follow OHSU on Twitter and Instagram.

Bite into a healthy lifestyle

Happy National Nutrition Month! Every March we get an entire month to think about and celebrate the food we eat and the choices we make to get and stay healthy.

This year’s theme is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle,” which encourages everyone to make healthy and informed food and physical activity choices every day in order to live the healthiest life possible.

We all know by now the importance of following a healthy lifestyle, but the real issue is how to realistically achieve this day after day. One of the most basic changes is to start preparing meals at home.

Even if you aren’t a gourmet cook, home-cooked foods will almost always be healthier (read: lower in fat, sugar, and calories and higher in fiber and nutrients) than those served away from home at restaurants.

The New York Times recently ran a story that examined what 2000 calories looks like at various restaurants versus at home, and the visual images of how to obtain a day’s worth of calories is striking. The amount of food you get from the home-cooked meals truly looks like it would carry you through a full day compared to the same amount of calories at any restaurant, which often provide a full day’s worth of calories at only one meal.

The takeaway message is that cooking at home will certainly help you reach and maintain a healthy weight, with the added benefits of being more filling, more delicious, more nutritious, and more affordable.

This Nutrition Month, I encourage you to cook at home more often as part of a healthy lifestyle. If you’re a regular cook, explore some new Mediterranean diet recipes or commit to cooking every day this month.

If you’re a novice, set aside one day a week that you can learn some basics (check out these cool infographics on food and cooking for inspiration) or sign up for a cooking class; stay tuned for heart-healthy cooking demonstrations to be offered at OHSU’s Center for Health & Healing.

You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment after creating your own healthy meals, and it will be healthier, and hopefully tastier, than take-out!


Tracy Severson, RD, LD, is the dietitian for the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute. She specializes in nutrition counseling for cardiovascular health and weight management.

Your health questions answered: What can I do about high cholesterol?

You ask. OHSU health experts answer. This month, one of our cardiovascular experts is on the hot seat.

Q. I eat healthy, exercise and am not overweight – but I have high cholesterol. What can I do?

A. Average low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol is below 125; when it is above 160, you may have been born with high cholesterol. Talk to your primary care provider. You may have a genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). People with FH cannot remove low-density LDL cholesterol from their blood, and thus have high levels. The most important thing you should do if you have FH is to scrupulously follow a healthy lifestyle:

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat right.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Keep your weight within a normal range.

If your cholesterol remains high, you may eventually need a statin, a medication that’s very effective in lowering cholesterol. There are also options if you cannot tolerate statins.

For more information, contact the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute’s Heart Disease Prevention Program.


Dr. Sergio Fazio is Director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology, where he works to prevent and reverse heart disease through personalized care and research innovation. U.S. News & World Report rank the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute as the top cardiology and heart surgery hospital in Oregon.

Why 96,000 Square Miles?

OHSU Health Fair at Pioneer Square.

President Robertson is fond of saying that OHSU has a 96,000 square mile campus, serving Oregonians “from Enterprise to Coos Bay, from Portland to Klamath Falls.”

This blog aims to highlight that breadth. 96,000 Square Miles (96K for short) will focus on the people of OHSU, the Oregonians we serve and the ripple effect of our work in Oregon and beyond.

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