Petersburg Native On Cusp of Solving Organ Transplant Rejection

By Benjamin Cox on March 11, 2022 at 12:43pm

A Petersburg, Illinois native is on the cutting edge of organ transplant research.

Dr. Joseph Turek is Duke University’s chief of pediatric cardiac surgery.

Turek and a team of experts are part of the only program in the western hemisphere that uses a unique way to help prevent a new transplanted organ from being rejected.

WTAX reports that Turek recently was a part of a breakthrough surgery that helped save a 6 month old boy’s life by co-transplanting a cultured thymus and a new heart. Turek says the combination of transplants could address the problem of new organ rejection in transplant patients.

Turek graduated from PORTA High school and according to WICS Newschannel 20, he spent a summer doing medical research at Southern Illinois University. Turek says that summer of research sparked his interest in saving lives and becoming a doctor.

Turek says the successful surgery was performed last summer and that current testing on the toddler shows that the thymus tissue is building well functioning T-cells that aren’t attacking the boy’s new heart.