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Media Spotlight

‘Dad, Please Take My Kidney’

Transplant strengthens bond between Murtaza and Safderali Jaffer

His father needed a kidney, and Murtaza Jaffer believed he was destined to be the donor. The procedure itself didn’t faze Murtaza, 35, of Wescosville. Neither did the extended recovery time. His main concern? Convincing his close-knit family to support his decision.

“I knew they’d worry, because we care about each other so much,” Murtaza says about his father Safderali, mother Mumtaz, brother Mustafa and sister Siddiqa. “Growing up, our parents did so much for us. Now it’s our turn to help.”

After several years of declining kidney function, Safderali, 66, began undergoing kidney dialysis in January 2013. He also got on the waiting list at Lehigh Valley Health Network’s (LVHN) Transplant Center. Realizing it could take years for his father to get a kidney, Murtaza insisted on getting tested as a possible donor. “Mustafa also was open to donating, but I felt in my heart it should be me,” he says.

His father wasn’t so sure. “I didn’t want to put him at risk,” Safderali says. Murtaza was a perfect match, but he needed more facts to plead his case, so he turned to LVHN’s transplant team for help. “They gave me details so I could explain to my family what surgery would be like for my father and me,” he says.

Murtaza also told them the many advantages of living donor transplants. “No time on a waiting list is just one reason it’s the best option,” says LVHN transplant surgeon Lynsey Biondi, MD, with LVPG-Transplant Surgery. “Living donor kidneys also work better and last longer than deceased donor kidneys.” Those facts and Murtaza’s persistence finally won out. On Dec. 18, 2013, Biondi removed one of Murtaza’s kidneys. Her colleague, Michael Moritz, MD, then transplanted the organ into Safderali.

The following morning, father and son reunited. “We were in pain but still smiling,” Safderali says. “My first words were, ‘Hi partner.’” Today Murtaza is back at work at Trexlertown’s EBC Printing, which he co-owns with his brother. Safderali, a retired accountant, hopes to soon add his expertise to the family business. For now, he’s building strength through daily walks, spending time with his three grandchildren and once again enjoying his favorite foods. “The nurses and doctors took excellent care of us,” he says. “I thank them and I thank God my son and I are both well.”

To talk with Murtaza, his father or Dr. Moritz, please contact the public affairs office at 484-884-0819, or send us an email.


‘The Fault in Our Stars’ Brings Back Personal Memories for Pediatric Cancer Specialist J. Nathan Hagstrom, MD

J. Nathan Hagstrom, MD
, knows all about “The Fault in Our Stars,” the new hit movie about two teenage cancer patients who fall in love.  The 21st Century Fox film, which topped U.S. theater box offices in its debut last weekend, is based on a best-selling fictional novel by John Green.

Hagstrom, who serves as the chair of the department of pediatrics for Children’s Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital, has read Green’s book and plans to see the film soon. He knows how it will make him feel. As a practicing pediatric hematologist-oncologist for 16 years, he’s lived it.

“It will be difficult to watch,” Hagstrom says. “It was very hard for me to read the book. It brought back such strong feelings and emotions about so many patients I’ve known over the years. In my life, the teenagers who I cared for who died because of this terrible disease have left the greatest mark. In our time together, we formed a two-way bond that’s very strong. They are always with me.”

“The Fault in Our Stars” is told through the eyes of Hazel Lancaster (played by Shailene Woodley), a 16-year-old with thyroid cancer who is forced by her parents to join a support group. That’s where she meets 17-year-old Augustus “Gus” Waters (played by Ansel Elgort), who had lost a leg to cancer. Their friendship blooms into a touching love story overshadowed by a quest to find life and meaning within the window of time their disease will allow.

During his career, Hagstrom found himself developing deep kinships with some 40 patients who have lived and died through a similar experience.

“What’s truly remarkable about teenagers living with cancer is their humanity,” Hagstrom says. “It’s hard to understand unless you see it. It’s fully on display like with no other person I’ve known. It’s palpable and completely unfettered. They display amazing strength and wisdom well beyond their years – very adult qualities – and yet can maintain an adolescent curiosity for life, a sense of humor and trust in others even when facing death.”

Hagstrom says the title “The Fault in Our Stars” is in and of itself a tribute to these special teenagers.

“It’s from Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar,’ suggesting that humans inherently carry fault, not the stars,” Hagstrom says. “Yet these remarkable young people have taught me that humanity in its true nature has no faults. In other words, it would be so easy to get angry as there’s so much pain and suffering involved with this disease. But I’ve witnessed these young people choose to live every moment they have as well as they can, and to do so while supporting the people around them. It happens again and again; it’s just amazing. It’s humanity at its very core.

“In the book, Gus states that he wants to leave a mark. That’s what these young people do in my experience, that’s the lesson in ‘The Fault in Our Stars.’ The bonds we make with people are the most important marks we leave this world. I’ve made unbreakable bonds with these teenagers. I miss them every day.”

Reporters interested in speaking with Hagstrom should contact the LVHN media team at 484-884-0819, or send us an email. He will be available starting Wednesday, June 11 for interviews.


FDA Approves First Implantable Tiny Heart Monitor; Device Researched and Partially Developed at LVHN

The FDA last week approved a tiny, wireless pressure sensor placed in the pulmonary artery to monitor the condition of patients with advanced heart failure and avoid hospital admission. Lehigh Valley Health Network was a research site for the past five years for the sensor and related monitoring system called CHAMPION, which stands for CardioMEMS Heart Sensor Allows Monitoring of Pressure to Improve Outcomes in NYHA Class III Patients.

Ronald Freudenberger, MD, LVHN chief of cardiology and medical director of the Heart and Vascular Center, called this device a “game changer,” as it is the first implantable diagnostic device for heart failure. Freudenberger served as the principal investigator for the research at LVHN, which, he said, will be a teaching site for implanting the technology.

The figure-8 shaped device gathers and tracks internal pressure readings on a computer database. Changes in these pressures could signal a problem with the patient’s heart pumping ability and the need to adjust the patient’s medication to reduce fluid accumulation. Making this change would possibly avoid hospitalization, a common and frequent complication of heart failure.

Reporters interested in speaking with Freudenberger should contact the LVHN media team at 484-884-0819, or send us an email.


Allentown Native Mary Kate Erdman Returns Home for SELECT Medical School Program

The 2016 class of SELECT, our medical school partnership with the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, arrived in May to begin two years of learning at our health network. Two members of the 42-student class are returning home after completing two years of medical school in Tampa, Fla.

Today, meet Mary Kate Erdman, 28.

What’s your Lehigh Valley connection?

I was born in Allentown and graduated from Central Catholic High School. I graduated from Lafayette College with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and also took post-baccalaureate classes at Muhlenberg.

How did you get into medicine?

I’ve been interested in medicine since I was 5 years old. I went into engineering because I’m fascinated with the physics surrounding the development of surgical and medical tools. The way tools are advancing, it will help me speak the language of the suppliers.

Why did you choose SELECT?

This program is more than learning about medicine. It provides a 360-degree picture. It’s about interacting with patients, colleagues and hospital administrators. It’s a holistic approach to the health care industry, and that view makes sense to me.

SELECT’s emphasis on emotional intelligence makes it unique. What does that mean to you?

You can look at it as developing street smarts or becoming savvy in terms of the medical profession. In the first two years, you focus on learning about yourself. It’s an enlightening experience. The final two years, you use what you’ve learned about yourself to improve how you work with others.

Where do you see your future in medicine?

Nothing is 100 percent certain, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I wound up in an orthopedics residency. I could see myself discussing surgical options and hardware imaging techniques with manufacturers. However, the longer I’ve been in medical school, the more I’ve found that patient care is my driving force. I’ve been around fantastic doctors who know how to connect with patients and families. That’s what I want to do.


Michael Goodwin, Parkland Alum, Returns Home for SELECT Medical School Program

The 2016 class of SELECT, our medical school partnership with the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, arrived in May to begin two years of learning at our health network. Two members of the 42-student class are returning home after completing two years of medical school in Tampa, Fla.

Today, meet Michael Goodwin, 23.

What’s your Lehigh Valley connection?

I was born at Lehigh Valley Hospital-17th Street and lived in Upper Macungie Township. I graduated from Parkland High School before attending Saint Joseph’s University, where I got my bachelor’s degree in physics.

How did you get into medicine?

Growing up, I was into science and intended to apply for medical school. I knew medical school was right for me after participating in medical research that was physics-oriented rather than biology-oriented.

Why did you choose SELECT?

I have a big family. We’re close, and I wanted to attend medical school near the Allentown area. I found SELECT as they were admitting students for the second class. The SELECT program has standards other programs don’t, with a focus on patient-centered care. That spoke to me. There is a similar “caring about your fellow man” culture at Saint Joseph’s.

SELECT’s emphasis on emotional intelligence makes it unique. What does that mean to you?

Emotional intelligence is a fascinating part of the curriculum beginning in your first year. To me, it’s been about getting to know yourself before getting to know your patients. We take personality and conflict management tests, and participate in exercises designed to measure how we handle our emotions and the emotions of others. Now we’ll see how it translates into hospital and private practice settings. The focus on self-awareness puts us on the leading edge of medicine.

Where do you see your future in medicine?

I have a passion for pediatrics. My dad is one of 10 children, and I’m one of the oldest of 25 cousins, so I’ve been around kids my whole life. I’ve done volunteer work with kids. If I had to choose today, I’d say pediatrics, with an interest in surgery or emergency medicine.



Have A Symptom of Stroke? Don’t Sleep On It

It’s late at night. You’re talking to your husband, and he notices that you’re slurring your speech. Can it wait until morning? No.

“Never go to bed if you experience stroke symptoms,” says Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) neurologistYevgeniy Isayev, MD, with Lehigh Neurology. “For every 10-minute delay in treatment, you can lose millions of brain cells. You must call an ambulance immediately.”

When stroke symptoms hit, act FAST:

  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech difficulty
  • Time to call 911

Unfortunately, only 5–12 percent of stroke patients seek urgent care for their symptoms. Yet if you seek help right away, you are more likely to have a better potential recovery from stroke.

Stroke occurs when there is an interruption of blood supply to the brain. Even a brief interruption in blood supply may cause problems. Brain cells begin to die after just a few minutes without blood or oxygen. This can result in impaired movement, speech, thinking and memory, bowel and bladder, eating, emotional control and other vital body functions.

As the region’s only Comprehensive Stroke Center, Lehigh Valley Hospital promptly evaluates and treats stroke in the emergency room based on its Stroke Alert program. LVHN’s care includes a patient’s family members, who often are the first to identify signs of stroke and can help the recovery process by watching for the onset of post-stroke complications like depression.

“Stroke happens to the entire family, not just the patient,” Isayev says. “About one-third of patients experience depression after a stroke. These patients need to be recognized and treated early for the best results.”

Besides depression, other potential post-stroke complications include high lipid levels and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). The sooner you get care after a stroke, the less risk you have for developing such complications.

“We know a little less than 50 percent of patients are discharged home after stroke, others are discharged to skilled nursing facilities, and the remaining are discharged to inpatient rehab facilities,” Isayev says. “Getting treatment early, at the very first signs of stroke, ensures patients can regain the best quality of life possible.”



LVHN Gives Bethlehem Man First One-of-a-Kind Implantable Defibrillator 

Joe Hessmiller didn’t intend to make medical history in the Lehigh Valley in February.  He just wanted to hedge his bets on living longer than his parents, both of whom died of heart attacks in their 50s. Now he’s optimistic he’ll be around to dance at his granddaughter’s wedding, who was born earlier this year.

A routine stress test in January revealed a surprising and alarming diagnosis for the 57-year-old Bethlehem man. He has a congenital heart condition that’s potentially lethal. Without warning, his heart might start beating rapidly in a rhythm known as ventricular tachycardia; if uncorrected, this could cause sudden cardiac death. The condition is called catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, also known generically as “familial sudden death.”

So why is Hessmiller so optimistic now? In February, Joe became the first patient in the area to have a new, one-of-a-kind device implanted just beneath the skin near his armpit, called a subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or S-ICD for short. A single wire runs from the device to his breast bone, never touching his heart like conventional cardioverter defibrillators. It will monitor his heart rhythm, and, if needed, send a strong shock to Joe’s chest to jump-start his heart. Conventional ICDs have a wire lead that is inserted into the heart, which can break, cause infection or other complications. Joe’s device was approved by the FDA in 2012.

This potentially life-saving treatment is offered at LVHN exclusively, according to cardiologist Hari Joshi, MD, who implanted Joe’s SICD.

“Joe was an ideal candidate to have this SICD implant,” Joshi says. “He’s in otherwise good health, active and plans to live a long time. So any change of device battery or the wire will be simple and easy, with little chance for complications.”

To learn more about Hessmiller’s story, you can look at his interview online at If you would like to schedule an interview with Dr. Joshi or Hessmiller, please contact the LVHN media team at 484-884-0819, or send us an email.


BabyCam Now Available on All 44 NICU Children’s Hospital Beds

Lehigh Valley, Pa
. – Back in February, nine newborns in Children’s Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) were able to become tiny media stars through BabyCam, a web camera service that allows families and friends to see hospitalized infants through an ongoing live video stream accessed via a secure website.  Now, every infant in the NICU has the same opportunity.

“There are now cameras located at all 44 bed positions,” says Sharon Kromer, BSN, RN, clinical coordinator, telehealth services at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). “We’re in the process of enrolling all families who request the service.”

BabyCam was developed at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. It first came to Children’s Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital in as a pilot project in 2012.  Thanks to funding provided by the Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust, the initial launch in February covered nine beds. In calendar year 2013, the nine BabyCams were in operation for a total of 18,043 minutes, or about 301 hours of viewing for 72 babies.

For more information, please contact the LVHN Media Relations Team at 484-884-0879, or send us an email.



Need Help?

We can help you find the right doctor, or answer any questions you may have.

610-402-CARE (2273)

Open 8:30 am. - 5:30 pm. Monday - Friday