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  • ELSO Award

    Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and Memorial Regional Hospital Named Gold Level Centers for Excellence in Life Support

    Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and Memorial Regional Hospital have each been recognized with the Center of Excellence Gold Level ELSO Award for Excellence in Life Support from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO). The award highlights programs that have distinguished themselves by offering exceptional quality care in extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and boast processes and procedures that promote excellence.

    Memorial Healthcare System is the only healthcare system in Broward County that provides ECMO for support of failing organ systems in infants, children and adults. ECMO is one of the most advanced forms of life support available to patients experiencing acute failure of the cardio-respiratory system. ECMO allows for the patient’s lungs or heart to heal over a period of time by using a heart-lung machine to oxygenate the blood outside the body.

    “The extracorporeal life support program at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital has been a designated Center of Excellence by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization since 2016. This year, once again, receiving the Gold Level award recognizes our center’s continued commitment to patient safety and superior outcomes for infants, children and adolescents requiring extracorporeal support,” said Dr. Gerald Lavandosky, Chief, Critical Care, Joe DiMaggio’s Children’s Hospital.

    “The Center of Excellence Gold Level ELSO award makes our adult ECMO program the only one in South Florida, and one of only 69 adult ECMO programs worldwide, to gain this recognition. The multi-disciplinary team at Memorial Regional is extremely proud of achieving this in the short five years of its existence,” said Dr. I-wen Wang, Chief, Adult Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support, Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute. “This distinction, along with our critical care transport team and 3-star (top rating) for Aortic Valve Replacement surgery as designated by the Society of Thoracic Surgery, make Memorial’s Cardiac and Vascular Institute the destination program for the highest quality cardiac care in South Florida.”

    The ELSO Award signifies to patients and families a commitment to exceptional patient care from Memorial Healthcare System, as no other hospital system in Florida has the Center of Excellence Gold Level Award for both adult and pediatric ECMO. It also demonstrates to the health care community an assurance of high quality standards, specialized equipment and supplies, defined patient protocols, and advanced education of all staff members.

    Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and Memorial Regional Hospital are being recognized for reaching the highest level of performance, innovation and quality. As designated Centers of Excellence, each program demonstrated excellence in:

    • promoting the mission, activities and vision of ELSO;
    • patient care, by using evidence-based, highest quality measures, processes and structures; and
    • training, education, collaboration and communication supporting ELSO guidelines that contribute to a healing environment for families, patients and staff.
  • Dr. Arenas and Frederick Massey

    Memorial Transplant Institute Performs its 100th Kidney Transplant

    COVID-19 has not deterred the team of experts at Memorial Transplant Institute who recently performed its 100th kidney transplant. This is a significant milestone for the adult and pediatric Kidney Transplant program, which received accreditation in 2017. Frederick Massey, a 17-year-old teen from Fort Myers, Florida, was the 100th life saved, receiving a kidney in late July.

    Frederick was a healthy football player living a normal life with big dreams of playing professional football. In December 2019, his mother noticed he wasn’t eating and drinking as much as usual. She believed he was sad due to the illness of a close relative, until his face began to retain water, so she rushed him to the nearest hospital, where he was found to have a blood pressure of 200 over 130mmHg, nearly twice the average of 120 over 80. After intensive testing, he was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease.

    Since December 2019, Frederick underwent several surgeries in order to start dialysis treatments. His last dialysis treatment took more than 11 hours, making him feel defeated and exhausted given all the dietary restrictions and inability to have a normal teenage lifestyle. The very next day, on July 25, 2020, he received the call of a lifetime informing him that a kidney was available, which led him and his family to immediately take the two hour drive from Fort Myers to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

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    “I didn’t stop fighting, I knew I couldn’t give up on myself, because I needed to be strong for myself and my family,” Frederick said. “I’m very grateful because my doctors went through a lot of work to get this for me, and I will treasure this gift forever.”

    The Memorial Transplant Institute is the only center in Broward County, and one of only two programs in South Florida, to offer pediatric and adult kidney transplants. The institute’s success is due to a multi-disciplinary approach to total kidney care provided by a team of experts who offer highly coordinated, customized care before, during and after transplant surgery.

    “Kidney transplantation is a multidisciplinary team sport for everyone involved, so achieving 100 transplants in just three years is a success for the entire team,” said Dr. Juan Arenas, Chief, Memorial Transplant Institute. “Every time we give a patient an organ, we give them a new lease on life, and we could not be prouder to continue these life-saving surgeries to help patients like Frederick live healthier lives for years to come.”

    Dr. Arenas leads the comprehensive kidney transplant team including: surgeons, nephrologists, anesthesiologists, intensivists, imaging technologists and nurse practitioners, and support team of psychologists, social workers, nutritionists, financial coordinators and pharmacists.

    In the past three years, 1,088 end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients have been evaluated at the Memorial Transplant Institute. While 101 patients have received life-saving kidney transplants, 120 adults and four pediatric patients remain on the kidney transplant waiting list. Additionally, approximately 140 transplanted patients are followed in the post-transplant adult and pediatric clinics, many of whom received kidney transplants elsewhere and have since transferred their post-operative care to Memorial.

    Memorial Transplant Institute is based at Memorial Regional Hospital and includes Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. For more information about kidney transplantation or donation, call 954-265-7450 or visit mhs.net/services/transplant.

  • Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Performs First Pediatric Epilepsy Surgery

    A new surgical epilepsy program at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital successfully performed its first pediatric surgery aimed at stopping seizures in children with epilepsy. The newly established pediatric epilepsy surgical program at the hospital’s Neuroscience Center is the first of its kind in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

    The medical team performed the four-hour surgery on a 10-year-old Broward child who was suffering from epileptic seizures for the last three years. The child had been on multiple daily medications and still continued to have seizures, doctors explained. 

    During the June 17 procedure, surgeons began by placing electrodes directly on the child's brain. Neurologists and clinical technicians were inside the surgical suite and were able to monitor brain activities in real time. 

    “They were able to confirm that a lesion found in the child's left frontal lobe was causing the seizures,” said Dr. Daxa Patel, the pediatric neurosurgeon who led the surgery.

    The surgeons safely removed the lesion without injuring the child's brain, speech or motor functions. 

    The epilepsy team’s medical director, Dr. Syndi Seinfeld, now leads multiple specialists and clinicians in providing expert and individualized care for children whose lives are hampered by uncontrolled seizures. 

    "This is significant to the South Florida community, because there is now an experienced pediatric epilepsy team that provides an effective and safe option for children with intractable epilepsy," said Dr. Seinfeld, a board-certified epileptologist.

    In addition to Seinfeld and Patel, the team consists of two additional board certified pediatric epileptologists, two pediatric neurosurgeons, a neuropsychologist, a neuroradiologist, a neuropathologist and an electroencephalographic (EEG) technician. They will use advanced imaging tools and a robot that can assist during surgeries.

    Putting together the medical experts and acquiring the latest in surgical and imaging technology was crucial in establishing the pediatric epilepsy surgical program.

    "The program has three main components - physicians, staff and equipment," Patel said. "Now that we have all of these, we can offer a full spectrum of pediatric epilepsy care and provide children with a better quality of life.”

    Epilepsy occurs when the electrical signals in the brain misfire, causing temporary miscommunication between nerve cells. An individual who experiences recurrent seizures is thought to have epilepsy.

    Epilepsy can occur at any age, but most new diagnoses are in children.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, it’s estimated that approximately 470,000 children in the United States have the neurological condition.

    The Neuroscience Center diagnoses and treats various types of epilepsy, including: fever (febrile) convulsions (seizures in children with fever), generalized tonic clonic seizures, infantile spasm, myoclonic epilepsy, neonatal epilepsy, partial (focal) seizure and petit mal (absence) seizures.