The Man Behind the Science

At a time when health care is changing, The Bleeding & Clotting Disorders Institute in Peoria is assisting patients in making the transition while providing expert, comprehensivecare to increase their quality of life.

Delivering Personalized Health Care

Founded April 5, 2010, The Bleeding & Clotting Disorders Institute exists to provide professional, family-oriented care for patients experiencing bleeding, clotting, and other blood disorders. The nonprofit multidisciplinary evaluation, treatment, and research facility provides health care services and education, coordinating care in collaboration with health care professionals to help patients experience life to its fullest.

“We do everything to ensure the best possible care for our patients,” says Dr. Michael Tarantino, Medical Director and Founder of BCDI. “BCDI is the only recognized bleeding and clotting disorders center outside of Cook County. For this reason, part of our mission is to reach out to under-served areas in Illinois through our awareness campaign. Twice a month we pack up our clinic and visit cities and towns as far north as Rockford and as far south as Springfield to provide treatment and education. We are working on a telemedicine program in the southern part of the state. We have a job to do, and BCDI will do what it takes to bring healing and education to people across the state."

Dawning of an Era

The importance of having bleeding and clotting disorder clinics similar to BCDI in the United States was first realized in the 1960s when Dr. Judith Graham Pool, an American scientist and professor of Medicine at Stanford University, accidentally discovered how to isolate the missing protein that causes blood to clot in hemophilia patients. Hemophilia is an inherited disease caused by a deficiency in one of the proteins needed for blood to clot, resulting in prolonged bleeding into the joints, muscles, or body organs.

This accidental discovery led to a new era of physician treatment of patients with the disease. The availability of the missing clotting factor has enabled hemophiliacs to treat themselves at home with injections, reducing both the length of hospitalization and the cost of treatment.

“Before Dr. Pool’s discovery, if patients with hemophilia suffered a serious hemorrhage, and if they survived, they would usually remain in the hospital for a couple of weeks or more,” says Dr. Tarantino. “Some patients would experience traction, lose muscle mass, and become disabled. Dr. Pool’s discovery led to the existence of comprehensive care centers of excellence, like BCDI. Today, these care centers exist to empower patients with hemophilia to take care of themselves.”

In the late 1970s to mid 1980s, clotting factor concentrates became contaminated with HIV. In response, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) set up programs to administer and monitor the safety of clotting treatment through Comprehensive Care Clinics.

Following the contamination of the clotting factors, the inception of Hemophilia Treatment Centers of Excellence took place. BCDI is one of 143 federally recognized Hemophilia Treatment Centers of Excellence in the country, and the only one in downstate Illinois.

For more information on hemophilia, visit visit www.hemophilia.org.

Experiencing Expert Care

BCDI provides expert, state-of-the-art care, collaborating with other bleeding and clotting disorder centers to develop the best practices to markedly enhance patient treatment. “We have networks of doctors in the country that focus on treating blood disorders even more rare than hemophilia in order to administer the best care possible,” explains Dr. Tarantino. “Health care is a right, but it is also a commodity. Patients must go to a place where the practitioners and staff are specially trained experts.”

When it comes to delivering expert care to patients with rare blood disorders, BCDI continually surpasses expectations. An award winning, nationally recognized hematologist appointed as a representative on the board of directors of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Council (MASAC) of the National Hemophilia Foundation (NHF), Dr. Tarantino’s work to combat hemophilia, Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP) and other blood disorders has led to advanced research on behalf of patients living with these diseases.

One of Dr. Tarantino’s signature contributions to the hemophilia community was his role as lead investigator for the clinical development of the first fully synthetic blood factor product. Today, it is the primary product used to treat and prevent bleeding in hemophilia patients. In honor of his contributions to patients with this disease, Dr. Tarantino was awarded the highest honor in the bleeding disorders community: the prestigious Kenneth Brinkhous Physician of the Year Award, in 2012.

Additionally, BCDI delivers expert care by striving to remain on the cutting edge of ITP research and treatment. ITP is an acquired blood disorder that causes easy or excessive bruising and bleeding due to unusually low platelet levels.
Dr. Tarantino has been involved in treatment that increases platelet production in persons with ITP and has served as the lead investigator on an international study to help children with the disease. In addition, Dr. Tarantino is collaborating with Dr. Greg Gerstner to form the first ITP comprehensive care clinic in the country.

Having published between 40 and 50 articles related to ITP in medical journals and having given numerous presentations on the disorder, Dr. Tarantino says BCDI has treated ITP patients across the country, even as far away as California, and partners closely with the Platelet Disorders Support Association (PDSA) and has served on PDSA’s Medical Advisory Board for the past decade. For more information, visit www.pdsa.org.

As experts in their field, the physicians and staff at BCDI are heavily involved with community education. For the past five years, BCDI has participated in the Women’s Lifestyle Show and other area conventions to promote awareness of von Willebrand Disease (VWD) and other bleeding disorders in women.

According to Dr. Tarantino: “People with VWD take longer to stop bleeding than normal. Heavy menstrual bleeding is one of the symptoms. At BCDI, we work with women’s gynecologists to avoid unnecessary surgery to treat heavy menstrual bleeding.”

Tested and Proven

BCDI’s stellar reputation would not be possible without the help of trained medical professionals on staff. “The National Hemophilia Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board uses guidelines for training purposes as well as for specific credentials that bleeding disorder centers’ staff and physicians must have in order to treat patients,” explains Dr. Tarantino.

Dr. Tarantino has extensive training in the specialty of bleeding and clotting disorders. He completed a fellowship in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at the University of Wisconsin in 1993 and is currently a professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria. Today, he has 25 years of experience caring for children and adults with bleeding and clotting disorders. BCDI’s 20 plus-member staff encompasses 250 years cumulative experience in bleeding and clotting disorders.

As health care continues to move forward with the advent of the Affordable Care Act, nurse coordinators and medical social workers help patients navigate through the recent changes in Medicaid, changes implemented by the Affordable Care Act and similar reforms taking place in the private insurance market.

“With the changing health care environment, I think people really need to exercise caution about which health care plan they choose and look carefully at the qualifications of different physicians,” says Dr. Tarantino. “BCDI is here to help patients in every way possible. Whether transitioning to a more affordable health care plan, finding the right specialist or reaching out to the community, we make patients’ quality of life our number one priority.”

Michael D. Tarantino, MD, completed his residency in pediatrics at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in 1990. He is currently a professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. He is board-certified in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and brings 25 years of experience caring for children and adults with bleeding and clotting disorders.

For more information on the Bleeding & Clotting Disorders Institute, visit www.ilbcdi.org or call 309-692-5337 or toll free at 877-335-2234. Office hours are from 8 a.m.– 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. BCDI is located at 6811 North Knoxville, Peoria, IL.