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Thomas Fishbein, MD, executive director, Georgetown Transplant Institute.
Thomas Fishbein, MD, executive director, Georgetown Transplant Institute.
Donor small intestine ready for transplant.
Donor small intestine ready for transplant.
Thomas Fishbein, MD, (center) along with transplant team, performs small bowel transplant at Georgetown University Hospital.
Thomas Fishbein, MD, (center) along with transplant team, performs small bowel transplant at Georgetown University Hospital.

SMALL INTESTINE TRANSPLANT EXPERTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD HOSTED BY GEORGETOWN

New Research and Treatments Presented

Washington, DC, September 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Fifty-two year-old Paul McNeel, a fire chief from Leonardtown, Maryland was 37 in 1996 when a sudden health problem caused the loss of his small intestine. Almost all of it had to be surgically removed to save his life. For 13 years after that, McNeel continued to fight fires and stayed alive by feeding himself a special liquid formula through a tube that went from a port in his chest directly to his heart and into his bloodstream. Over time that feeding process called TPN or total parenteral nutrition took a toll on his body; it was damaging his liver and he began to suffer frequent and worsening infections. McNeel needed a life-saving transplant that 13 years earlier would not have been survivable. Thanks to research into improved surgical methods, better anti-rejection medications and a better understanding of the small intestine, McNeel was able to have that transplant in May 2009 at Georgetown University Hospital under the care of Thomas Fishbein, MD, executive director of the Georgetown Transplant Institute and a specialist in small bowel transplants.

“I had never heard of a small intestine transplant,” said Paul McNeel. “It was difficult getting most of my nutrition from a tube and living with a constant upset stomach. Having an intestine transplant allowed me to eat normally and become a whole person again.”

Experts from all over the world who have helped thousands like Paul McNeel are coming together in Washington, DC, September 15–18, 2011, to share their latest research and clinical breakthroughs. Dr. Fishbein, also president of the Intestinal Transplant Association, is hosting the International Small Bowel Transplant Symposium which comes to the United States just once every four years.

“The coming together of all these clinicians who specialize in the repair, rehabilitation or transplant of the small intestine represents the development of a new specialty that integrates treatments all dedicated to one purpose. In the past twenty years we have gone from most patients dying to most people living when they have a serious problem with their small intestine,” said Dr. Fishbein.

Topics include intestinal tissue engineering, the growth of bio-artificial small intestines in the laboratory; the discovery of the effects of a gene mutation called NOD2 that could lead to new treatments for Crohn’s disease, a chronic disorder of the GI tract that afflicts 500,000 people in the US; the development of a new TPN component derived from fish oil rather than vegetable oil that might be less toxic to the liver; and the discovery of new biomarkers for organ rejection that could be tested non-invasively via a urine or stool sample rather than an invasive endoscopy.

“I’m glad all these experts are coming together from all over the world like this,” said McNeel. “All their work sure helped me and I know they’ll help others like me. I’m pretty sure I would have died without my transplant. It gave me a new lease on life.”