Zion’s Story: One Year Later
Today, nine-year-old Zion Harvey can throw a baseball over home plate. He can write in his journal, prepare himself lunch and manage zippers on his clothes. For most of his life, however, these and many other ordinary actions were impossible for this little boy.
In the summer of 2015, surgeons at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Penn Medicine joined with colleagues from Shriners Hospitals for Children—Philadelphia, to complete the world’s first bilateral hand transplant on a child. The surgical team successfully transplanted donor hands and forearms onto then-eight-year-old Zion who, several years earlier, had undergone amputation of his hands and feet and a kidney transplant following a serious infection (Almanac December 15, 2015).
In the days and weeks after surgery, Zion had to start small: Wriggling a thumb and flexing his fingers required intense concentration. He spent more than a month at CHOP, recovering from surgery and participating in rigorous occupational and physical therapy, before returning to his home near Baltimore.
One year later, Zion is able to swing a bat and throw a football. He can take medicine and get dressed by himself. He can pick up important objects: a pencil, a fork, a piece of pizza.
“He’s gaining independence and that is the whole reason why we do this,” said L. Scott Levin, chairman of the department of orthopaedic surgery and a professor of plastic surgery in the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM), and director of the Hand Transplantation Program at CHOP. “Zion’s remarkable progress would not have been possible without a large team of multidisciplinary specialists, and the foundational work our hand transplant team at Penn Medicine has built, starting with our first adult hand transplant in 2011 (Almanac November 8, 2011).”
“After the transplant healed, it was very important for Zion to be in therapy full-time,” said surgeon Benjamin Chang, co-director of the Hand Transplantation Program at CHOP and associate chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery at Penn Medicine. “This is when we can make the most progress in terms of getting his function to come back, helping the tendons to glide, the muscles to grow stronger, actually re-teaching his brain how to fire those muscles again and then teaching him how to do things like writing. He and his family have managed this so well, beyond our expectations.”
In the past year, Zion has spent up to eight hours a day in rehabilitation at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. Occupational therapy is essential as Zion’s brain relearns how to communicate with limbs that were missing for six years, and his muscles and tendons gain strength and flexibility.
Additionally, a team of CHOP neuroscientists assembled to conduct brain imaging and analysis to track and aid Zion’s mental and physical rehabilitation. For the first time, the team is calibrating functional MRI scans of Zion’s brain and directly correlating his therapy to the brain mapping. The goal is to get the primary motor cortex, the part of the brain that controls his hands, to catch up to the other fully developed areas.
As Zion grows, so will his hands. Zion continues to receive daily immunosuppressant medications to prevent his body from rejecting the new limbs, as well as his transplanted kidney. Dr. Levin and his team will continue to follow Zion throughout his lifetime.
“Double hand transplantation is a complex procedure involving many surgical and non-surgical components. Zion’s success is a testament to the skill, dedication, innovation and passion of Dr. Levin, Dr. Chang and the rest of their team,” said N. Scott Adzick, CHOP’s surgeon-in-chief. “As for the future, our CHOP and Penn teams are carefully reviewing and evaluating all aspects of Zion’s progress and when the time is right hope to offer this same surgery to other children.”
“Zion is a pioneer. With each week since his surgery, our team has learned more that will inform their efforts to perform future bilateral hand transplants and afford more children and adults a better quality of life,” said Abraham Shaked, the Eldridge L. Eliason Professor of Surgery in PSOM and director of the Penn Transplant Institute.
Scott Kozin, chief of staff at Shriners Hospitals for Children—Philadelphia said that Zion’s progress has been spectacular, and highlights what can be accomplished by a committed and coordinated collaborative effort among multi-disciplinary teams at CHOP, Penn Medicine and Shriners Hospitals for Children.
“The dedication to Zion’s hand functionality and rehabilitation has expanded to the Kennedy Krieger Institute, as well as the amazing community that has rallied behind Zion and his family,” Dr. Kozin said. “Their support has been instrumental to Zion’s success. Zion’s remarkable improvement, and his newly found ability to perform tasks previously unobtainable, is inspiring. Shriners Hospitals for Children is committed to continuing to advance this field and hopefully providing future children with the opportunity of this life-changing surgery.”
When asked how his life has changed now that he has hands, Zion said, “I’m still the same kid everybody knew without hands. But I can do everything now. I can do the same things even better.” (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFyP_R6wPr8)
Zion’s mother, Pattie Ray, said she believes her son could have done anything before without hands. “But now his light will shine even brighter. Whatever he is destined to do, it’s going to make it that much better. I know those hands are going to be used in great ways.”
Before the surgery could be conducted, it was necessary to locate a suitable donor, a function coordinated by Gift of Life Donor Program, the nonprofit organ and tissue donor program which serves the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. Thanks to the generosity of a family in the midst of terrible loss, donor hands became available for Zion.
“For 42 years, Gift of Life Donor Program has partnered with transplant centers throughout this region to bring innovative transplant procedures to patients in need,” said Richard Hasz, vice president of clinical services for Gift of Life. “As with all types of transplants, surgeries such as this one could not take place without the generosity of a donor and a donor family. We thank them for their selflessness and for their gift that made this surgery possible.”
“People say I’m strong, but you really have to be strong to give the gift they gave,” said Ms. Ray. “I think about them and I thank them every day.”
Zion's Medical Team.
Photos courtesy of Penn Medicine and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
New College House is Penn’s first residential building specifically designed as a college house within the college house system bringing together undergraduates, faculty, staff and graduate advisors to form dynamic shared communities. Designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, New College House began construction in December 2013 and opened its doors as home to 350 residents on August 24, in time for the fall semester.
The design includes mostly single student rooms collected in multiple-bedroom suites with three to six bedroom arrangements, each with a living room and a private bath. The 198,000 square foot project is designed with many public and programmatic spaces built around a private central courtyard and includes a dining cafe and a new public pedestrian gateway via Woodland Walk with a generous sloping lawn.
Providing funds for the project are Emeritus Trustee and alumnus Stephen Heyman and his wife Barbara Heyman, and the Lauder Family, including alumni Leonard Lauder, Penn Emeritus Trustee and William Lauder, Penn Term Trustee.
NCH’s first residents include 340 freshmen, House Dean Trina Nocerino, Faculty Director Cam Grey, Faculty Fellows Jennifer Ponce de Leon and Bridgette Brasner and House Coordinator Heather Durham, four resident advisors and six graduate associates.
Related: Over a Century of Dorm Rooms at the University of Pennsylvania
Employee Resource Fair: An Opportunity to Participate
Dear University of Pennsylvania Departments & External Vendors,
The Penn Professional Staff Assembly (PPSA) and the Penn Weekly-Paid Professional Staff Assembly (WPPSA), in partnership with the offices of the Executive Vice President and the Division of Human Resources, are co-sponsoring an Employee Resource and Volunteer Fair on Wednesday, October 5, 2016 from noon-1:30 p.m. in the Hall of Flags and Bistro, Houston Hall. The purpose of the fair is to provide information to employees regarding the vast and varied campus resources and services available to them as well as volunteer opportunities. The fair will be open to the entire Penn community.
We are excited to offer you an opportunity to participate in the 2016 Employee Resource Fair. We would welcome representation from your area and encourage you to showcase your services.
If you would like to participate, pre-registration is required, and we ask that two representatives from your office staff a table. Typically, participants bring both informational and promotional materials on their services, brochures, giveaways, etc. Please feel free to advertise your participation in the Resource Fair through your email lists and newsletters. Set-up and breakdown will take place from 11 a.m. to noon and from 1:30 p.m. until 2 p.m.
Space is limited, so register today.
Registration information is available: https://upenn.irisregistration.com/Form/ERF2016
In addition to the Employee Resource Fair there will be a Volunteer Fair organized in tandem with the event. This Volunteer Fair takes place in the Bistro next to the Hall of Flags. PPSA invites groups from the Philadelphia area to inform members of the Penn community about the volunteer opportunities they have available. There will be approximately 10-15 local nonprofits represented at the fair. Space is limited.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration to participate in the 2016 Employee Resource Fair. For all inquiries, please contact email@example.com
—Kuan Evans, PPSA Chair
—Rosa Vargas, WPPSA Chair
David Nerenberg: Financial Director For Penn Dental Medicine
Penn Dental Medicine recently announced David Nerenberg has been appointed its executive director of finance.
In this position, Mr. Nerenberg will serve as the School’s chief financial officer with senior managerial and fiduciary responsibilities for University and School policy, as well as the areas of financial strategy, fiscal operations, patient revenue and grants management.
Mr. Nerenberg has more than 20 years of experience in higher education, nonprofit and public sector finances, most recently as interim CFO and director of finance at Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts. In this leadership role, he oversaw the development of an annual operating and capital budget in excess of $85 million, implemented new financial control measures, streamlined workflow, broadened the college’s program portfolio and generated new revenue streams. He also oversaw Student Financial Services, which includes the areas of billing and financial aid and building and grounds that manages over 700,000 square feet of academic, administrative, residential and common area space.
Prior to his time at Curry College, Mr. Nerenberg served as director of budget and planning (2012-2015) and budget manager (2007-2012) at Wheaton College, a small private liberal arts school in Norton, Massachusetts. From 2001-2007, he worked for the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, serving as associate director of finance and administration. Prior to that, he worked briefly at Penn in central administration as the director of resource planning in the Office of Budget & Management Analysis. His other professional posts include five years with the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, working in the areas of financial planning and analysis, as well as two years in public policy and analysis with Greater Philadelphia First.
Mr. Nerenberg holds a master’s in public affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, and a BA in political science from Binghamton University (the State University of New York).
Increased Postdoc Stipends for FY17: Effective December 1
The University recently issued its policy regarding postdoc stipends for FY17: http://www.upenn.edu/almanac/volumes/v63/n01/of-record-postdoc-stipend.html The stipend levels were adopted after the Department of Labor amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Since we published the policy in July, the NIH announced that it would increase the stipend for NRSA (National Research Service Awards) trainees and fellows to levels above the FLSA threshold. The August 10, 2016 NIH announcement can be found at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-16-134.html
In recognition of the importance of postdocs to the University, it is recommended that, effective December 1, 2016, all schools and departments adopt the NRSA levels for all postdocs on campus. Please note that these stipend levels represent minimums. Schools and departments may establish their own guidelines as long as stipend rates meet or exceed those established by the University. Penn investigators are also expected to comply with any postdoctoral stipend guidelines promulgated by their sponsors, if these sponsor-specified guidelines exceed the Penn minimum stipend levels.
Note: Stipends should be adjusted upwards at the time of the annual postdoctoral reappointment, at the time of the annual grant renewal or at the beginning of the NIH fiscal year.
FY2017 Required Minimum Stipend Levels
Years of Experience
Scale effective 7/1/16-11/30/16
Scale effective 12/1/16-6/30/17
—Dawn Bonnell, Vice Provost for Research
2017 Models of Excellence Award Nominations: October 21
Penn staff members are known for their exemplary work. Now is your chance to recognize these efforts by nominating your coworkers for Penn’s Models of Excellence awards. Nominations for fiscal year 2017 are open now through October 21, 2016.
The new online nomination is available at https://www.hr.upenn.edu/models
The Models of Excellence award program celebrates the extraordinary achievements of full- and part-time staff across the University’s schools and centers. Awards are given in three categories:
• Models of Excellence Award—Recognizes staff member accomplishments that reflect initiative, leadership, increased efficiency, and a deep commitment to service.
• Model Supervisor Award—Honors supervisors who contribute to Penn’s success.
• Pillars of Excellence Award—Celebrates the important work that weekly-paid staff members do to promote Penn’s success.
Two lunch-time programs will be held to help you begin putting together a nomination that conveys exceptional performance and award worthiness.
Register at www.hr.upenn.edu/modelsbrownbag or firstname.lastname@example.org
• Thursday, September 22, 1-2 p.m., 3401 Walnut Street, 5th Floor, HR Conference Room
• Thursday, September 29, 12:30-1:30 p.m., 3624 Market Street, Suite 1A South, Learning and Education Training Room
All nominees receive a certificate of appreciation for their service. Models of Excellence, Pillars of Excellence and Model Supervisor winners each receive $500 and a symbolic award. Nominees selected for honorable mention receive $250 and a symbolic award. Awards will be presented at the Models of Excellence ceremony on March 28, 2017 at 4 p.m. in Irvine Auditorium. (Doors open at 3:30 p.m.; reception to follow.) The entire Penn community is invited to attend.
Visit https://www.hr.upenn.edu/models for more information about the Models of Excellence program, or contact Human Resources at email@example.com or (215) 898-1012 if you have questions.
—Division of Human Resources