February 10, 2006

Rick Cushman
(215) 349-5659


Invitation to Cover
Past, Present, and Future: Penn Honors 1st Transplant at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania…
And Introduces the Transplant House

WHAT: Reception and dinner celebrating the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania’s first transplant. Penn will be honoring Howard Mehl, the transplant recipient, and his brother Joe, the first donor, on the 40th Anniversary of this pioneering procedure. This evening’s events will also kick-off Penn’s new initiative to create the city’s first Transplant House.
WHO: Howard Mehl (transplant recipient); Joe Mehl (donor); Dr. Clyde Barker (the Mehls’ Transplant Surgeon); Dr. Arthur Rubenstein (Executive Vice President of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and Dean of the School of Medicine); Dr. Larry Kaiser (Chair, Department of Surgery and Surgeon-in-Chief); Dr. Abraham Shaked (Chief of Transplant Surgery at HUP); Dr. Ali Naji (Kidney Surgical Director); Dr. Robert Grossman (Nephrologist)
WHEN: Monday, February 13th
5:30-6:30 Reception in Lobby
Dinner to follow on 14th floor
WHERE: Biomedical Research Building II/III
421 Curie Boulevard
Parking available in Lot #44-adjacent to BRB II/III

On February 10, 1966, Dr. Clyde Barker performed the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania’s first kidney transplant, a pioneering procedure at the time. Since then, Penn’s Transplant Center has developed into one of the top-10 programs nationally in terms of volume and outcomes.

In 1965, then 20 year-old Howard Mehl was told he was suffering from end-stage kidney failure. Facing a lifetime of dialysis or death, Howard turned to his brother Joe, who was found to be a perfect organ donor match. Joe didn’t hesitate to volunteer one of his two healthy kidneys. The operation was an immediate success. He was released from the hospital that April, and aside from a few sporadic episodes, has had no complications from the surgery.

Forty years later, Howard is the longest surviving kidney transplant recipient with a working graft in Pennsylvania and ranks 14th overall in the world. He continues taking the same medications at nearly the same dose as was first prescribed after being stabilized. Howard is 62 years old and has had three children since his surgery. He currently runs a catering business in Delaware County, PA, with his wife Lia.

Penn’s Transplant Center is looking forward to expanding its already excellent patient care with the Transplant House initiative. The Transplant House will be the first of its kind in Philadelphia, offering a home away from home for the families of transplant patients. The house will offer rooms to families of waiting transplant patients for a fraction of the cost of a hotel room in a major city like Philadelphia. A kitchen will also be available to prepare low-cost, nutritious fare. Some of the groundwork has already been laid in the effort of making this vision a reality -- including an initial allocation of funds from Penn’s Department of Transplantation, and the appointment of a steering committee. In the future, additional fundraising events will be held to help raise awareness of this much-needed patient asset.


PENN Medicine is a $2.7 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn’s School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #4 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System comprises: its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, consistently rated one of the nation’s “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home health care and hospice.

This release is available online at http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/feb06/trnshse.htm