Yale Expert To Help Open First Center in Latin America To Treat Life-Threatening Vascular Condition, HHT

Robert I. White, Jr., M.D. of Yale University will travel to Buenos Aires to pave the way for the first center in Latin America to treat a rare but potentially fatal vascular disorder known as Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT). White is participating in the first patient meeting in Buenos Aires on Saturday, March 13. Alfredo Buzzi, M.D., Emeritus Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of the Universidad de Buenos Aires will be the keynote speaker at this HHT patient conference. Both White and Buzzi are available to speak to the press about the meeting and the new center.

White, a professor of diagnostic radiology and director of the Vascular Malformation Center at Yale School of Medicine, is a world-renowned vascular expert who has developed several new procedures in vascular and interventional radiology. He pioneered, at Yale, the first multidisciplinary center in the United States to research and manage HHT. The center in Buenos Aires will be modeled after Yale’s.

White’s trip coincides with a visit by Yale Vice President and Secretary Linda Koch Lorimer, J.D., who is traveling to Buenos Aires to raise the awareness of Yale in Argentina. In addition to these activities, Vice President Lorimer will meet with Dr. White and Dr. Buzzi to learn more about the activities of this new center and to discuss future synergies between the Yale School of Medicine and the School of Medicine of the Universidad de Buenos Aires.

HHT is a genetic disorder in which certain blood vessels form without capillaries, which are crucial for oxygen exchange and filtering of blood. Without them, high-pressure blood flows at full force into the veins, creating weak spots that are susceptible to rupture.

The most common symptom of HHT is mild to moderate nosebleeds; but more serious symptoms can include ischemic stroke, TIA, brain abscess, hemorrhagic stroke and seizure. HHT can impact many organs, from the nose to the gastrointestinal system, liver and brain. About 10 percent of people with HHT die prematurely or are disabled due to complications of their vascular malformations. HHT affects 200 people per million worldwide. Unfortunately, most cases go undiagnosed.

“HHT is a vascular time bomb,” White said. “But it may be preventable through early diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. It is also very amenable to treatment using interventional radiology approaches.”

White has traveled extensively, repairing complex arteriovenous malformations around the world. He has guided the creation of 19 HHT Centers of Excellence across the United States, as well as in Europe and Japan. He also sees hundreds of patients who come to Yale from across the U.S. and from abroad to receive treatment, and he provides training to physicians.

Along with White, Yale-trained physician Eduardo Eyheremendy, M.D., Chairman of Radiology at the German Hospital (Hospital Aleman) and Professor of Radiology at the School of Medicine of the Universidad de Buenos Aires will spearhead the center in Argentina. The Chiesa family, whose members were treated by physicians at the Yale HHT center, is setting up a foundation to raise funds for promoting the HHT center in Argentina.

The goal is to have Eyheremendy treat HHT patients at the Buenos Aires HHT center with White’s input. “We are delighted to be in a position to help the Chiesas and Dr. Eyheremendy set up this non-profit foundation and multidiscipline center,” White said.

White recently received the 2010 Career Achievement Award from the International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy (ISET), in recognition of his contributions to the field.

PRESS CONTACT: Ben Kellogg 646-495-9722

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Helen Dodson: helen.dodson@yale.edu, 203-436-3984