Georgia's only lung transplant program and most comprehensive transplant immunology program will grow even stronger thanks to a major gift from philanthropist Andrew McKelvey, founder of Monster Worldwide.
The $5.4 million gift will fund research, build laboratories, attract new experts in transplantation and expand Emory's ability to help patients who need transplants.
"We greatly appreciate this latest gift from Andy McKelvey, whose previous generosity has been critical to the recruitment of outstanding faculty and the growth of Emory's lung transplant program" says E. Clinton Lawrence, MD, director of the Andrew McKelvey Lung Transplantation Center in Emory School of Medicine.
The Center was named for McKelvey in 2001 when he gave $20 million to support Emory's efforts in lung transplantation.
"His support has been remarkable for us," says Dr. Lawrence, who has been McKelvey's friend and medical adviser for more than 25 years. Dr. Lawrence holds the Augustus J. McKelvey Chair in Lung Transplantation Medicine, which Andrew McKelvey endowed to honor his late father, a general medicine physician.
Unlike patients with severe kidney disease who can be helped with dialysis while waiting for a transplant, patients whose lungs are failing have nothing to do but wait. Those fortunate enough to receive a donated organ face another tough battle - lung recipients have the lowest five-year survival rate of any other transplant recipients because their bodies often reject the new organ.
The investments that McKelvey has made at Emory are helping researchers develop new medical therapies for lung disorders - in hopes of eliminating the need for transplants - and new strategies to improve outcomes after surgery. In particular, Emory investigators are making major advances in improving "transplant tolerance" by developing drugs to keep the body from rejecting transplanted organs and cells.
"These new funds will support a broadening scope of clinical and laboratory-based activities at Emory, including lung transplantation, pulmonary vascular diseases and transplantation tolerance," Dr. Lawrence says.
To reflect the growth of Emory's treatment and research efforts in lung disease, the McKelvey Lung Transplantation Center will be renamed the McKelvey Center for Lung Transplantation and Pulmonary Vascular Diseases. Current research includes basic studies of the immune response to transplantation and multi-center clinical trials of new medications for lung transplantation and treatment of pulmonary hypertension.
Emory's lung transplantation program began in 1993. Today it remains the state's only lung transplant program and receives referrals from throughout the Southeast. As of Jan. 31, 2007, Emory specialists had performed 200 adult and pediatric lung transplants.
Nationally, about 1,000 patients receive lung transplants each year; recipients are chosen from a waiting list of 4,000. Lung transplantation, removing one or both diseased lungs and replacing them with donor organs that match in blood type and size, treats the end stage of several diseases, including emphysema (accounting for about half of all transplants) and cystic fibrosis.
The McKelvey Center is part of the Emory Transplant Center, which has achieved a remarkable number of transplant firsts, including Georgia's first kidney transplant (1966), heart transplant (1985), liver transplant (1987), kidney-pancreas transplant (1989) and lung transplant (1993). Most recently, Emory performed the first islet transplant in Georgia (2003). Islets are clusters of cells in the pancreas that help the body regulate blood sugar; islet transplantation is under study as a possible cure for diabetes.
"Emory has the only lung, liver and islet transplant programs in the state, and our Clinical Islet Lab is one of only a handful of such centers in the world," says Christian Larsen, MD, DPhil , director of the Emory Transplant Center. "Emory's outcomes consistently meet or exceed predicted levels, and this clinical strength beautifully complements the excellence of our research programs."
A native of New Jersey, McKelvey began his lifelong career in business at age 12, selling fresh eggs door-to-door. In 1967, he founded the forerunner of Monster, a yellow pages advertising company called TMP (Telephone Marketing Program). Under his leadership, the company moved into the human resources arena, giving rise to Monster.com.