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Columbia Business Monthly

MUSC Health opens transplant clinic in Greenville

Jun 26, 2020 10:29AM ● By David Dykes

(John Greene with sister Megan Greene Roberts, left, and mother Allison Greene. Photo provided.)

By Liv Osby

After Natalie Davis had a life-saving heart transplant, her family had to make about a dozen trips from Greenville County to Charleston to see doctors the first year. 

The number of yearly trips has declined some since that May day in 2014, but the appointments continue to be frequent, placing a hardship on her and her family, her mother, Jane Davis, said.

The drive was long and uncomfortable for Natalie, now 11, her mom said. And it was tough to keep her little sister, Kayla, now 8, occupied, she told Greenville Business Magazine. 

Plus, the cost of lodging, gas and meals added up. 

“Hotels in Charleston are not cheap,” Davis said. “It was usually $100 a night for a room.”

But the Medical University of South Carolina has opened a satellite clinic in Greenville, which will allow Upstate transplant patients to stay in the area for many appointments.

“It sounds great to me,” said the Greer woman. “We can just go and go home. It will just make life so much easier.”

The center - MUSC Health Grove Road - will see patients who’ve had heart, lung, liver and kidney transplants, said Zachary Sutton, a physician assistant who works at the center. 

In the last 10 years, more MUSC transplant patients have been from the Upstate than anywhere else in the state, he said.

“Our patients are already here,” he said. “We now have a more permanent presence here to take care of them.”

Sutton said some physicians will be onsite, but patients can also use a telehealth suite to have virtual appointments with doctors in Charleston.

Services at the new location include pre-transplant evaluations while patients are on the waiting list for an organ, and post-transplant checks to see how they’re doing, he said. 

MUSC has partnerships with area providers so that testing can be done here as well, he said.

“Historically,” he said, “we brought patients down to Charleston for tests and they were there for a long period of time.” 

MUSC’s move to Greenville had been planned for about five years, he said. Similar expansions have already been done in Murrells Inlet, Columbia and Lexington, he said, with another coming to Lancaster County soon. 

Having care close to home will be a huge relief for John Greene, a Greenville kidney transplant patient who is awaiting a second transplant since his first kidney, donated by his mother, Allison Greene, failed after seven years.

Now 36, Greene had the transplant in 2012 after being diagnosed with a rare but serious illness that damages organs like the kidneys.

After the surgery, there were countless medical visits to ensure everything was going according to plan. And the frequent trips to Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina added to the stress, the cost and the difficulty of transplant surgery, Allison Greene said. 

“It was just grueling,” she remembers. “On the best day, the drive to Duke would be four hours.” 

Along with his mother, other family members had to stay in Durham to be near John as well, disrupting their work schedules and paying for lodging out-of-pocket, sometimes for weeks, she said.

But after the next transplant, which his sister hopes to be approved to donate soon, he will be close to home, family, friends and his beloved dog.

“Instead of spending a month in Charleston post-transplant, which I had to do for my first transplant at Duke, I’ll be able to return to Greenville one week after surgery and attend appointments in town to make sure the kidney isn’t rejecting,” John Greene said. 

 “Having the office here will be a lifesaver when it comes to time, money and anxiety.”  


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