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Barbados-born US surgeon named Delaware History Maker


Barbados-born US surgeon named Delaware History Maker
Transplant surgeon Dr Velma Scantlebury. (GP)

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Barbados-born United States history-making transplant surgeon Dr Velma Scantlebury has chalked up yet another award.

Scantlebury, who is widely recognised as the first female African American surgeon to specialise in transplant surgery in the US in 1989, was recently honoured by the state of Delaware with the Delaware History Makers Award, becoming the only female African American to be named a Delaware History Maker.

The award will be presented on October 7 at the Delaware History Museum in the state’s capital, Wilmington.

She joins a distinguished group of previous winners who include United States President Joe Biden and acknowledged it was “an honour” to be selected.

She told Delaware State News reporter Rachel Sawicki: “I feel like I don’t really belong in this unique league of folks, but I am grateful and honoured to be selected.”

Scantlebury has often shared stories of her road to success that was paved with challenges. Born in Goodland, St Michael, the youngest of the seven Scantlebury children, she migrated to the US with her parents as a teenager, with her sights set on pursuing a path of study that would lead to the medical career of which she always dreamed in childhood.

In an interview with the Weekend Nation ten years ago she spoke about the “terrifying experience” of entering a Brooklyn High School and how “the edge” she was given through a secondary education at the Alleyne School in St Andrew, got her through those difficulties.

Scantlebury earned her medical degree from Columbia University in New York City and completed her fellowship training in transplantation surgery at the University of Pittsburgh before joining the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine as an assistant professor of surgery in 1989.

She rose to the rank of associate professor prior to her appointment at the University of South Alabama’s Regional Transplant Centre in Mobile, Alabama where she served as Professor of Surgery, Director of the Kidney Transplant Programme and Assistant Dean of Community Education.

She recently retired from Christiana Care’s Kidney Transplant Programme where she served as the Associate Director, and Director of Outpatient Clinics and currently holds the position of Professor of Surgery at Texas Christian University (TCU) and University of North Texas Health Science Centre (UNTHSC) and Medical School, in Fort Worth Texas. (GC)