MedStar Southern Maryland Saves Lives Through Organ Donation

April is Donate Life Month

For Renee Sicheri, a registered nurse at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center (MSMHC), organ donation is very personal. Indeed, it is a solemn occasion for everyone at the hospital. We know it means one family is dealing with a devastating loss and a sad time, but we also know another family will be able to celebrate a second chance for their ailing loved one.

Sicheri has been on both sides of this equation. She suffered the loss of a beloved family member whose organs lived on and saved lives in the bodies of others, and she is part of the team at MSMHC who works with Washington Regional Transplant Community (WRTC) to coordinate this process to save numerous others. WRTC is the organization responsible for the delicate and complicated process of finding donor organs for recipients on donor lists and coordinating the transfer of the organs to recipients.

The way the organ donation process works is this: First, every effort to save the patient’s life is expended, provided this is what the patient would want. After extensive testing, once it is determined the patient will not make it, but whose organs may be able to function and save a life in the body of another person, WRTC is notified. They will come to MSMHC, review the patient’s chart, and check their database for matches. Then, the family of the patient is consulted, but it is always the wishes of the patient that overrides anyone else. Once the organ is harvested, it is put on a medivac helicopter for rapid transit to its recipient.

After the process is complete, the donor’s family receives recognition from WRTC for the generous gift of life from their loved one in the form of a thank you certificate that includes how many people were potentially saved through each person’s organ donation and how long they were on a recipient list.

At MSMHC, we are proud to be a part of this process and proud to support WRTC by promoting their Donate Life campaign and the process of becoming a donor. We promote this message in various ways, including through education to both our associates and our community, through hosting a WRTC representative for an organ donation sign-up day in our hospital’s cafeteria, and by participating in Blue
and Green Friday on April 13th, to increase awareness of the Donate Life campaign.

Late last year, WRTC awarded the entire MSMHC perioperative team for being champions of the organ donation process, and for being among the Top 50 hospitals for notification and procurement. It also awarded Dr. Katharine Modisett, MD, for facilitating the organ donation process at MSMHC.

Please visit for more information about organ donation.

New ‘Constellation’ Machine Expands Eye Surgery Capability

The recent purchase of an Alcon Surgical Instruments Constellation machine has brought the latest technology in eye surgery to MedStar Southern Maryland.

The Constellation machine, which replaces two twelve year-old machines, can perform both traditional and laser surgeries to repair eye conditions from cataracts to retinal detachments, as well as repairs of eye damage caused by hypertension and diabetes

One impressive statistic that illustrates the improvement the Constellation brings to our hospital is the amount of cuts per minute. The former machines cut tissue at a rate of 2,500 cuts per minute, whereas the new machine has the capacity to cut at 10,000 cuts per minute.     

The first surgery with this machine took place near the beginning of March, and was a repair of a previous cataract surgery that was not able to remove the entire cataract, leaving fragments behind and leaving the patient with 20/200 vision. 

After the successful repair surgery, performed by Dr. Pedro Rivera, the patient’s vision was corrected to 20/30 in a procedure that took one-third the amount of time it would have using the old machine.

“The capabilities of this machine are so much better,” said Dr. Rivera.  “The Constellation uses smaller gauge instruments and control is superior, which means it is better at manipulating tissue.  The complications decrease while the surgical outcomes have increased, as well seeing faster healing and better visual recovery.”

Assisting Dr. Rivera in eye surgeries at MedStar Southern Maryland are RNs Tracy Humes and Judi Wesley, along with surgical technician Josephine Gloria.  After its debut surgery, the new machine was used twice later on that first day, and will continue to see increased use.  


MedStar Southern Maryland Welcomes New Neurosurgeon Steven Spitz, MD

spitzMedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center welcomes new neurosurgeon, Steven Spitz, MD.  Dr. Spitz joins doctors Anaizi, Sandhu and Voyadzis in a neurosurgery practice that treats the full spectrum of brain and spine cases.  Dr. Spitz will perform procedures that include spine oncology, minimally invasive spine surgery, nerve decompression surgery, nerve reconstruction surgery, cervical disc arthroplasty and laminoplasty and cervical, thoracic and lumbar surgeries. 

Prior to joining MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, Dr. Spitz completed a Spine Fellowship at Emory University Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia, where he honed his treatment philosophy.

“I believe healthcare decisions should be a collaboration between myself and the patient,” said Dr. Spitz.  “I’m not here to tell a patient what to do, but to make a plan with them.  I make sure they have the information they need to make informed decisions.”

Dr. Spitz earned two undergraduate degrees, a bachelor of science in biology from the University of Georgia in Athens, GA, and a bachelor of science in medical technology from Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, GA.  He also earned his medical degree at Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, GA.  His residency in neurosurgery took place at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC.  Dr. Spitz became a Post Doctorate Fellow at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland and is a member of the American Medical Association and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

“MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center is thrilled to welcome Dr. Spitz onto our team of gifted neurosurgeons,” said President Christine Wray.  “He earned impressive accolades during his education and has also been the recipient of teaching awards at MedStar Georgetown.  His expertise is in demand and patients here will appreciate his warm demeanor and collaborative approach to care.  Dr. Spitz will be a great addition to our hospital.”

To refer a patient or make an appointment, please call 301-856-2323.


Cheryl Richardson
Director of Marketing and Community Relations
[email protected]

About MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center:

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, a 192 bed full-service hospital serving the Washington, D.C., metro and Southern Maryland areas, was founded in 1977 and joined MedStar Health in December, 2012.  Throughout the hospital’s history, it has remained a community leader, a strong supporter of health care education and a dedicated advocate for quality health care services.

Hospital Introduces New Plastic Surgeon, Sarah R. Sher, MD

sher-sarah_wellerCLINTON, MD – MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center welcomes new plastic surgeon, Sarah R. Sher, MD.  In this position, Dr. Sher will concentrate on breast reconstruction for breast cancer patients, as well as breast reductions and general reconstruction.  

“I’m looking forward to playing a positive role in a patient’s journey through breast cancer,” said Dr. Sher.  “It’s so fulfilling to be a part of a team of physicians who can understand what patients are going through.  I want potential patients to know that most breast reconstruction procedures are covered by insurance, and that many problems, like asymmetry, can be easily fixed.  A two to four hour procedure can change a woman’s life.”

Prior to joining MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, Dr. Sher served as assistant professor at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s Department of Plastic Surgery, and will continue to see patients at that location. Dr. Sher has extensive training on all the typical plastic surgery procedures, such as tummy tucks, skin cancer excisions, general reconstruction, breast augmentation, facial rejuvenation, blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), surgery after weight loss, rhinoplasty, liposuction, Botox and fillers, chemical peels and Latisse.  Dr. Sher will offer consultation in all areas of plastic surgery at Medstar Southern Maryland Hospital Center. 

“We’re thrilled to make this announcement during Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” said MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center President Christine R. Wray.  “Dr. Sher brings much-needed expertise to our hospital, and I know the community will greatly benefit from her expertise, as we serve the women of southern Maryland.  Plastic surgeon Dr. Sarah Sher are an integral part of a comprehensive chain of gifted physicians who treat women at every stage of health.”

Dr. Sher received her undergraduate degree from Southwestern University and her medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.  She completed her internship and residency in plastic surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.  Dr. Sher also volunteered on a mission trip fixing cleft lips and cleft palates with Operation Smile in India.

Dr. Sher has published numerous papers on plastic surgery procedures and has won several awards, including the honor of Top Resident in Hand Surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.  Dr. Sher is also fluent in Spanish.  To refer a patient or make an appointment, please call 301-877-5607.




Media Contact

Cheryl Richardson
Director of Marketing and Community Relations
[email protected]

About MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center:

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, a 192 bed full-service hospital serving the Washington, D.C., metro and Southern Maryland areas, was founded in 1977 and joined MedStar Health in December, 2012.  Throughout the hospital’s history, it has remained a community leader, a strong supporter of health care education and a dedicated advocate for quality health care services.

Thanks to Dr. Byrne, “I can do it all”: Nurse Shares Personal Account of Total Knee Replacement Surgery

Anita Persing of White Plains, Maryland, chose John Byrne, MD, and MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center for her total knee replacement surgeries. Here’s why.

Anita Persing has always lived an active life, but back in 2007, osteoarthritis began to get in her way. She was finding it difficult to walk long distances and was having trouble executing turns during her weekly swing dancing dates with her husband, Charles. In fact, everyday activities were becoming harder.

As her knee pain worsened, Anita knew exactly the right person to call: orthopaedic surgeon John Byrne, MD, a member of the MedStar Orthopaedic Institute who has practiced at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center for over 20 years. Anita was a registered nurse (RN) who had spent years working in the recovery room of MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center’s surgical unit. She had seen his work and knew that Dr. Byrne was a caring physician as well as a skilled orthopedic surgeon.

“The best referrals are referrals from people I work with at the hospital,” Dr. Byrne said. “It’s a great compliment when people with firsthand knowledge come to me.”

Anita also had a strong recommendation from one of Dr. Byrne’s former patients: her husband, Charles, an avid golfer who walks five miles each day on the course. More than 10 years ago, Dr. Byrne replaced both of Charles’ hips. The surgeries were about a month apart, in November and December. “His goal was to walk 18 holes of golf by the following March, and he met that goal,” she said. “It has been over 10 years since the surgeries, and he has had no problems at all.”

Total joint replacement experts

Total joint replacement surgery treats the pain, inflammation, and swelling associated with arthritis by replacing parts of the damaged joint with an artificial one. When conservative management of symptoms is no longer effective, total joint replacement can relieve the patient’s symptoms and return the patient to an active lifestyle.

“We try other options to relieve symptoms, including anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, and viscosupplementation injections,” said Dr. Byrne. “We try to avoid surgery when possible, or at least postpone it.”

But when Anita’s knee gave out, causing her to fall and break her wrist, she knew that it was time to move forward with surgery. In July of 2008, Anita had her first total knee replacement surgery with Dr. Byrne at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center. She had total joint replacement surgery on her other knee in December, 2014.

Anita had a great experience at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center: “The hospital care was wonderful, and everyone was very professional,” she said. “Even though I’m a nurse, I learned a lot by going through surgery on the patient side.”

A full recovery

Dr. Byrne and Anita agree that following the rehabilitation program as recommended is key to a successful recovery.

“With total joint replacement, our goal is to get the patient back on their feet, with no pain and normal function,” Dr. Byrne said. “But a lot of that is up to the individual.”

Determined to walk without pain as soon as possible, Anita got back to swimming three to four times a week as soon as her stitches had healed and got started on her rehabilitation right away. “I found it especially helpful to go to the rehabilitation centers, because they have a full range of equipment and the physical therapists are wonderful coaches.”

Today, Anita is back to living a full life. “We do a lot of things now: traveling, walking longer distances, and I can do it all.”

For more information about the MedStar Orthopaedic Institute in Clinton, Maryland, visit or call 301-856-1682.

Dr. Kim Joins General Surgery Team

Min_Kim_MD_Headshot (4)
Dr. Min S. Kim
Michael_Gillespie_MD_Headshot (2)
Dr. Michael A. Gillespie

Recognizing the need for General Surgeons to service the population around MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center (MSMHC), the hospital is proud to announce the recent hiring of Dr. Min S. Kim, who joins General Surgeon Dr. Michael A. Gillespie. 

General surgeons typically perform surgeries on bowels, gall bladders, appendixes, hernias and colons.  Providing general surgery services is very important for the community surrounding MSMHC, where an increased percentage of the local population has heart disease and diabetes. 

“We’re continuing to build the general surgery program at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, offering a comprehensive surgical service so patients have access to the care they need within their own community,” said Gillespie.  “We’re headed in a positive direction, in a growth phase.  We’re bringing in more specialists and I think the community’s appreciative. Now that we have Dr. Kim, we can keep building our momentum.”

Doctors Gillespie and Kim are both dedicated to using minimally invasive techniques, including the use of surgical robotic equipment, which reduces damage to tissue and the risk of infection, and helps speed up the healing period.  In most cases, minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic surgeries are now outpatient procedures, including hernia and gallbladder patients.

“General surgeons are committed to doing modern surgeries and are fairly flexible to changing with technology,” said Kim.  “People should realize a majority of procedures we do are safe and are, in many cases, minimally invasive.”

Dr. Kim received his bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.  He went to medical school at State University of New York at Downstate in Brooklyn and his residency took place at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, NY.  Dr. Kim was board certified in general surgery and became a Fellow with the American College of Surgeons in 2005.  His area of interest is laparoscopic and robotic surgery.

Dr. Gillespie came to MSMHC from Baltimore Surgical Specialists.  He is a graduate of Seton Hall University and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.  He completed his residency at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, PA, and a fellowship in colon and rectal surgery at Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, PA.  Dr. Gillespie is a member of the American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons, the American College of Surgeons, the Chesapeake Colorectal Society and the Maryland Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.  He has published several related papers and is licensed to practice in Maryland and Pennsylvania.  His area of interest is clinical research.

Media Contact

Cheryl Richardson, Director of Marketing & Community Relations
[email protected]
(301) 877-5556

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, a 192 bed full-service hospital serving the Washington, D.C., metro and Southern Maryland areas, was founded in 1977 and joined MedStar Health in December, 2012.  Throughout the hospital’s history, it has remained a community leader, a strong supporter of health care education and a dedicated advocate for quality health care services.


Using Robotics to Expand Surgery Options

Finding the Best Approach for each Individual

General surgeon Michael A. Gillepsie, MD, with the da Vinci surgical robot

For the average person facing elective surgery, the less invasive, the better. Minimally invasive surgery also called laparoscopic surgery has become a popular option for many patients, who appreciate the reduced scarring and faster recovery times. Robotic surgery offers additional advances, allowing surgeons to use even smaller cuts and to view enlarged 3-D images of the patient’s anatomy during the procedure. 

General surgeon Michael A. Gillespie, MD, has a strong interest in this technology. He recently joined MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center to help meet the community’s need for specialized surgical services. 

“As we’re building the general surgery program, we’re also expanding the outpatient component of the hospital, offering more medical procedures where patients can go home that same day,” said Dr. Gillespie. “Most minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic surgeries are now outpatient, including hernia and gallbladder.” 

As a community hospital, MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center is the ideal location for Dr. Gillespie, who enjoys getting to know his patients. An important part of that relationship is ensuring that patients are involved in the decisions regarding their health. “Patients and family members should be mentally prepared for surgeries, so they need to understand what will happen. I educate them - I’ll diagram or draw pictures so they can see what’s going on and know what to expect.”

Dr. Gillespie received his medical degree from Robert Wood John Medical School. He completed his residency at Albert Einstein Medical Center, and his fellowship in colon and rectal surgery at Lehigh Valley Health Network. Prior to Dr. Gillespie’s arrival at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, he was an attending physician for the colorectal surgery fellowship at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. He has conducted clinical research on many topics, including colectomies, surgical adhesion, minimally invasive hemorrhoidectomy surgery and colorectal advance recovery protocols.

At the cornerstone of robotic surgery is the da Vinci ® Surgical System–a sophisticated platform designed to expand the surgeon's capabilities. Find out how by visiting For more information, please call 301-877-7353.


Is Weight-Loss Surgery Right For You? Find Out Today.


Dr. Brebbia - Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric Surgeon, John Brebbia MD, MBA, FACS, CNSC (Right)

MedStar Southern Maryland to Host Weight-Loss Surgery Seminar

If you're struggling to lose weight after rounds of lifestyle changes and nothing seems to work, it's time to consider joining the thousands of people just like you who finally found relief after choosing bariatric surgery. In order to offer the community more information on what this procedure entails, MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital will be hosting a MedStar Weight Loss Surgery Seminar on Dec. 14, 2015, from 6 p.m. - 7 p.m. at the Surratts-Clinton Public Library along with a MedStar Weight Loss Surgery Support Group Meeting. Prince Georges County and Southern Maryland have the highest rates of obesity in Maryland as well as the DMV area, yet Southern Maryland has some of the fewest number of resources to combat obesity. Our goal is to provide more tools, resources, and support to Southern Marylanders who are battling with obesity.

The Weight Loss Surgery Seminar will be conducted by one of MedStar's Bariatric Surgeons, John Brebbia MD, MBA, FACS, CNSC. Dr. Brebbia will discuss the following topics during the seminar presentation:

  • Criteria to qualify for weight loss surgery
  • Effectiveness of weight loss surgery
  • Strategies for lifestyle changes
  • The various types of weight loss surgery
  • Some of the Pros and Cons of each procedure
  • Insurance company requirements for weight loss surgery
  • Recovery from weight loss surgery
  • Next steps after seminar for those are interested in exploring surgical weight loss surgery options

MedStar Weight Loss Surgery Support Group Meeting seeks to be a resource and source of non-judgmental support for Southern Maryland residents who:

  • Have had weight loss surgery and are working to maintain the successes that they have achieved
  • Have had weight loss surgery and are worried about regain
  • Have had weight loss surgery have regain varying degrees of weight
  • Have family members / friends who have had weight loss surgery and want to learn how to better support them
  • Are going to have weight loss surgery and desirous of support
  • Are thinking about bariatric surgery and want to learn more

To learn more about Bariatric Surgery Candidacy, click here. Visit our Facebook page for additional event information. For questions or to register, please call 301-774-8962 or email [email protected]