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    May 23

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Black History Month: Dr Velma Scantlebury-White

Sandra Sealey,

Added 08 February 2014


Dr Velma Scantlebury-White, the United States’ first African American female transplant surgeon and associate director of the Kidney Transplant Programme in Delaware at Christiana Care Health System, has performed more than 800 transplants in children and adults. But what is also significant is that this famous surgeon is a Barbadian. Born in Goodland, St Michael, she spent three years at Alleyne School in St Andrew, before migrating to New York in 1969 with her parents who moved the family to New York City because they wanted better opportunities for their children. She completed her high school education at the Prospect Heights High School at Classon Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. She went on to Long Island University in 1973 to read for a bachelor's degree in biology, graduating in 1977 and moving to Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She earned her medical degree from Columbia University, followed by an internship and residency in general surgery at Harlem Hospital Centre in New York. She completed her fellowship training in transplantation surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre, and continued her career in transplantation under the leadership of Dr Thomas Starzl from 1988 to 2002. In 1989, Scantlebury became an assistant professor and later an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh and in 2002, she was recruited from the University of Pittsburgh, one of the top transplant centres in the world, to the University of South Alabama. While at the University of South Alabama, Scantlebury was appointed professor of surgery and director of the University of South Alabama's Gulf Coast Regional Transplant Centre. Throughout her exceptional career, she has performed more than 200 living donor transplants and more than 500 deceased donor kidney transplants in children and adults, according to USA Medicine. “My passion is to educate the African-American community and to empower dialysis patients with the knowledge and understanding that they too can have a better life through the gift of transplantation," Dr Scantlebury-White told EBONY Magazine in a March 2006 article. An active educator in the field of African-American organ donation, she has served on the board for the American Society of Minority Health and Transplant Professionals and as a spokesperson for Linkages to Life, an organization that encourages African-Americans to become organ donors.  She continues to mentor young students and residents, and encourages them to “reach for the stars” and follow their dreams. Dr Scantlebury-White is married to Dr Harvey White and is the mother of two daughters, Akela and Aisha.


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