discoveries magazine

Triumph for Transplants

Ricki Nero

Five years ago, Ricki Nero, 48, of Federal Way, Washington, decided to quit dialysis. “She was going to die,” says her mother, Cynthia. A call from the transplant team at Cedars-Sinai offering her a new kidney—and sophisticated antirejection treatments that would enable her body to accept it—gave her a new life. Photo: Rachael Porter

Gifts that Count: Innovations in Healthcare and Technology

Organ rejection is one of the most intractable challenges facing the field of transplantation. Cedars-Sinai has long been a world leader in the development of novel therapies aimed at preventing and treating rejection.

In the 1990s, investigators at Cedars-Sinai pioneered the use of intravenous immunoglobulin. The therapy can protect patients with highly sensitized immune systems that would attack a transplanted organ. These vulnerable organ recipients account for nearly 40 percent of all transplant patients.

With philanthropic support, the work has evolved to include study of a novel pharmaceutical enzyme (imlifidase) that removes all antibodies within a few hours, making otherwise incompatible transplants possible. This drug has been given fast-track approval by the Food and Drug Administration, which means it may soon be available to clinicians worldwide. The Cedars-Sinai team continues to evaluate novel agents in sensitized patients to improve their chances for lifesaving transplants.

► Other innovations fueled by the campaign included advancing medical-imaging technology capable of detecting myocardial ischemia (reduced blood flow to the heart), identifying plaques in the carotid arteries that may trigger strokes, and giving doctors a detailed roadmap to problems in the spine.

Campaign Feat

Reinventing the Operating Room

Goal: Boost successes and improve outcomes in acute trauma care.

Outcome: Donor funding helped strengthen Cedars-Sinai’s partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense to create the operating room of the future. Called OR 360, the initiative allowed the medical center to rethink how operating rooms are designed in order to improve coordination of trauma care, when prompt medical attention can mean the difference between life and death.