Transplant Medicine Independent Study

by: Lisa Peck, Director of The Peck Center for Medical Sciences
Independent Studies are student-driven courses in which Chargers have the opportunity to focus on an interest that typically isn't offered in Shorecrest’s Upper School curriculum. Holland Bentley ‘23 is a student who has taken her interest in organ transplantation to the next level by designing her own independent study course, “Transplant Medicine.”

Holland has been working rigorously since January to uncover the beauty and challenges surrounding the organ donation process. In her studies she dives deeply into these topics for each solid (the heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs):
  • History
  • Indications
  • Organ Procurement Process and Operation
  • Transplant Surgery
  • Commonality in the US
  • Prognosis
  • Future Advancements
  • COVID-19 Outcomes
Holland also analyzed the similarities and differences between live and deceased donors, as well as the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). 

In addition to working with Shorecrest Upper School Medical Sciences Director, Lisa Peck, to achieve the goals of her research, Holland was able to be mentored by a Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics at the University of Florida, Dr. Jeffery P. Jacobs. Throughout her project, she delivered in-depth college-level presentations on each of the organs, informing not only Mrs. Peck of unfamiliar information but even teaching Dr. Jacobs. 

“My favorite part about this entire process has been learning about the new future advancements of transplant medicine,” Holland explained. “It was so interesting being able to see what the future of medicine looks like.” She explained that her favorite advancement was the TransMedics™ OCS (Organ Care System) for the heart and lungs–a device that works in an ICU to allow the organ to stay nourished and oxygenated outside of the body while being transported from donor to recipient, increasing viability of the organ. She learned about the device firsthand from Dr. Jacobs, who has been conducting studies on it over the past couple of years. 

Holland first met Dr. Jacobs when she expressed an interest in medicine as a 13-year-old while completing an eighth grade capstone project on cardiology. He helped explain to her the anatomy and physiology of the heart, and ever since then, he has inspired her tremendously. 

In addition to learning about future advancements, Holland also interviewed a liver transplant recipient who had experienced the transplant list and its struggles firsthand: “The interview was extremely informative… I loved being able to gain a patient perspective on the matter.” 

Holland plans to take her independent study into the summer. She is going to build an in-depth website that will provide all of the information that she learned throughout the semester for students in and outside of the Shorecrest community. Holland will also be helping to conduct a clinical research study at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital through the Summer Student Research Training Program, as well as participating in the UC Irvine Summer Surgery Program - one of the most premier medical-based high school summer programs offered. 

“Although I have a busy summer ahead of me, I look forward to these amazing opportunities to expand my knowledge in medicine even further, especially for my age.”

"I look forward to seeing what Holland will do with her passions in the future," Mrs. Peck shared. 
Do you want to pursue an independent study? If you are an upperclassman who has a unique interest in a topic that isn’t offered in the course catalog, consider doing one, as it is truly an amazing opportunity to pursue a passion at a young age.


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