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Dr. Velma Scantlebury is the first African American female transplant surgeon in America. She is currently the associate director of the Kidney Transplant Program at Christiana Care in Delaware. With more than 200 live donor kidney transplants under her career, she holds extensive research credit in African American kidney donation.

Dr. Scantelbury was once told her hands were too small to be a surgeon. The discouraging remarks only encouraged her to speak to children about achieving their goals no matter what; most likely a teaching from her own mentor, Dr. Barbara Barlow, a Pediatric surgeon. It is because Dr. Barlow took the time to teach her the ins-and-outs of surgery, and used her network to move her forward, that the doctor is the top surgeon she is today. Many of the doctor’s patients are uninsured or underinsured. She often sees minority patients in dialysis because they can’t afford the medications to keep their kidneys strong. She works with social workers to get government funding for her patients.

One of her current and future endeavors is to increase the longevity of the transplant patient. The average survival time for a kidney transplant is 10 to 15 years for a living donor and 8 for a cadaver transplant.

Little Known Black History Fact: Dr. Velma Scantlebury  was originally published on

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