It takes a skilled and hard-working individual to be a pioneer in modern America. Velma Scantlebury, M.D., the first Black, female transplant surgeon in the United States, is such a person. Working towards her original goal of pediatric surgery, Scantlebury stumbled upon the field of transplantation surgery and never looked back. “After my initial interest in surgery as a medical student, I actually wanted to be a pediatric surgeon,” said Dr. Scantlebury. “My path required research to get into pediatric surgery and an opportunity came to do a research fellowship in Pittsburgh. Next thing I know I was in the OR doing transplants!”
Since 1989, Dr. Scantlebury has worked in the field of transplantation and has performed more than 1,000 kidney transplants during her career. When she is not operating on one of her patients, she educates the public about organ and tissue donation and encourages more minorities to become donors. Though she has seen an increase in the number of African Americans registered donors she realizes there is a lot of work left to do. “Until the number of African Americans donating equals the number that needs to be transplanted, I will not be satisfied,” said Dr. Scantlebury.
Since 1989, Dr. Scantlebury has worked in the field of transplantation and has performed more than 1,000 kidney transplants during her career.
One of the ways Dr. Scantlebury shares her passion for increasing organ and tissue donation is through her involvement with The Links, Inc. as the national spokesperson for their Linkages to Life Program. The program specifically seeks to increase minority enrollment on all state donor registries. She also challenges her colleagues to educate as many people as they can. “Transplant centers and hospitals should be obligated to do a certain number of community activities to support organ donation. Many hospitals allow organ centers to do all of the work, but the collective action of both entities would produce constancy within the community regarding the need for organ donation.”
Dr. Scantlebury is more than a surgeon; she is an advocate for the thousands of patients awaiting a lifesaving transplant. She currently serves as the Associate Chief of Transplant Surgery at Christiana Care Health System in Wilmington, DE. Prior to this role, she served as a professor of surgery, assistant dean for community education and director of transplantation at the University of South Alabama’s Regional Transplant Center.
AMAT is proud of all that she has done and is doing to save lives. Dr. Velma Scantlebury, we salute you!