March 30, 2001
Volume XXXIV, No. 13


Of Note


First two sessions of Mini-Medical School focus on transplants, implants, gadgets, gizmos

Portrait of Dr. Halff DR. HALFF

Today, more than 75,000 individuals in the United States are waiting for an organ transplant. Each day, these 75,000 hope a telephone call will bring news that a transplant organ has been located for them. Until then they wait, wondering if they will beat the clock. (Statistic from the United Network for Organ Sharing.)

For more than 30 years, the Health Science Center, in conjunction with the University Health System, has provided patients the gift of life through organ transplantation. From its first kidney transplant in 1968, the organ transplantation program has grown to become a community, state and national leader in transplant surgery.

Dr. Glenn A. Halff, director of the organ transplantation programs and an associate professor and division head at the UTHSC, began the university's liver transplant program in 1992 and has since performed more than 300 liver transplants. Dr. Halff will discuss new developments in organ transplantation during the first session of this year's Mini-Medical School on Tuesday, April 3, at the Health Science Center.

The Mini-Medical School is sponsored by the UTHSC as a yearly gift to the community. The fourth annual event is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. April 3, 10, 17 and 24 in lecture hall 3.102. The Mini-Medical School is free and open to the public. The program is supported in part by an educational grant from Pfizer.

The April 3 program, "Reinventing the Human Body: Transplants and Gadgets," will begin with a welcome and overview from Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, UTHSC president. Dr. Cigarroa is probably the only university president in the country who performs transplant surgery in addition to performing his duties as president. Last year, Drs. Cigarroa and Halff headed a team of anesthesiologists, perfusionists, nurses and other professionals who performed the first split-liver technique in which a donor liver was shared between an adult and a pediatric recipient.

Dr. Halff said anyone with an interest in organ transplantation is invited to attend the Mini-Medical School. "It should be an interesting program especially for students considering a career in medicine, since it is an example of the unlimited possibilities that exist in this field," he said.

During his presentation, Dr. Halff will discuss several new developments in this area of medicine. "For kidney transplants, laparoscopic or non-invasive removal for donors is a wonderful new procedure. For liver transplants, the ability to split livers so that more than one individual benefits is allowing us to save more lives. Also, scientific advances are allowing us to remove a portion of a liver from a living related adult for transplant."

Organ transplantation is usually successful, but most "people do not understand that only half of the families consent to organ donation. Many people die needlessly because an organ is not available in time," Dr. Halff said.

The April 3 program also will include a fascinating presentation by Dr. Peter T. Fox, professor and director of the Research Imaging Center at the Health Science Center. At the Research Imaging Center. Dr. Fox and his colleagues use positron-emission tomography, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, transcranial magnetic stimulation and other techniques to explore human brain function.

On April 10, "Reinventing the Human Body: Implants and Gizmos" will include a welcome by Dr. Steven A. Wartman, executive vice president for academic and health affairs and dean of the Medical School. Dr. Jay D. Mabrey, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery, will discuss advances in orthopaedic implants. Dr. Marc David Feldman, associate professor of cardiology, will speak about "Stents: The Littlest Gizmos." Dr. Joo L. Ong, associate professor of restorative dentistry, will do a presentation on the latest advances in dental implants.

Registration is required due to limited seating capacity. Registration is available at For more information or to register, call ext. 7-1925 or send an e-mail to