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USA Health System
News Release
Mobile, Ala. (November 15, 2004)
Contact: Barbara Shaw
USA Hospitals Public Relations, (251) 471-7262

USA Medical Center Opens Histocompatibility Lab; Lab Will Evaluate Patients for Kidney Transplants

University of South Alabama Medical Center has been granted accreditation of its Histocompatability Laboratory, a step that could lead to an increase in the number of kidney transplants at the USA Regional Transplant Center.

The accreditation of the lab by the American Society of Histocompatibility and Immunogentics (ASHI), means the vital tissue typing and analysis that must be done on all transplant candidates, as well as living and deceased donors, can be done in Mobile. Samples will no longer need to be sent to Birmingham. This will substantially reduce the turn around time required for such testing, providing the transplant team at the USA Regional Transplant Center with accurate results in a timely manner.

“With kidney transplants, the closer the organ matches the recipient, the less the chance of rejection,” said lab director Dr. Prakash N. Rao. “In addition to blood type, donors and recipients are matched as closely as possible for histocompatibility antigens. This sophisticated tissue testing helps determine if a donated organ will be accepted, and not rejected, by the recipient’s body.”

When the kidney comes from a deceased donor, time becomes another critical factor in determining how well the kidney will function when transplanted. The sooner the organ can be transplanted, the better its chances of operating efficiently. Reducing the turn around time for tissue testing improves the chances for a successful transplant. Having the ability to test the kidneys in Mobile, may also increase the number of organs offered to USA.

“When a deceased donor becomes available, you have to consider how long the organ will be out of the body before it can be transplanted,” said Dr. Velma Scantlebury, Chief of Transplantation at USA. “Our ability to locally do the cross matching eliminates 8 hours of travel time for the organ, to and from Birmingham. This gives us the flexibility to accept more kidneys for transplantation, allowing us the opportunity to help more people who are suffering with renal failure.”

The laboratory has been approved to perform serological, molecular, and flow cytometry testing for recipients in the renal transplant program, and their living or deceased donors. In addition, the lab has also been approved for HLA testing for disease associations, a service that will soon be made available to community physicians.

The lab is under the direction of Prakash N. Rao, Ph.D, HCLD, MBA and professor in the department of surgery. Rao obtained his training in Transplantation Immunology at the internationally acclaimed Thomas Starzl Transplant Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, Penn. Rao is certified by the American Society of Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics and by the American Board of Bioanalysis.

“We have state of the art technology and an outstanding team of highly qualified laboratory technologists who bring considerable years of expertise in the transplant field,” said Rao. “We look forward to supporting the transplant program and the community.”

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Last date changed: November 16, 2004 10:52 AM