Dr. Velma P. Scantlebury to speak at King service in Elkton

Dr. Velma P. Scantlebury, a transplant surgeon at ChristianaCare and the first African-American female transplant surgeon in the United States, will be the keynote speaker Monday for the 30th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Service.

ELKTON — Wright’s African Methodist Episcopal Church will host its 30th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Service and Breakfast on Monday, Jan. 20, in a new location. The event will feature a keynote address by Dr. Velma P. Scantlebury, a nationally renowned surgeon at ChristianaCare in Delaware.

Organizers made the hard decision to move the well-attended event to a larger venue this year.

Charles Givens, Elkton town commissioner and a member of Wright’s AME, said Five Rivers Church offered its fellowship hall for the event, which organizers accepted.

“Being as this is the 30th anniversary and in the last seven to eight years we have been packed out ... we are only able to seat 100 at Wright’s and we can seat over 300 at Five Rivers,” Givens said of the church located at 290 White Hall Road in Elkton.

“We are thankful that Five Rivers opened its doors to us,” he said.

The extra capacity will be needed as well because of the keynote speaker, Givens said, who is recognized as the first African American female transplant surgeon in the United States.

“And now that Union Hospital and ChristianaCare have merged, she will be a figure here as well,” Givens said.

The surgeon was honored for her work by the National Kidney Foundation in 1989. In 2003, The United Negro College Fund inducted her into the Achievers Hall of Fame and she was named One of the Best Doctors in America.

She joined ChristianaCare in 2008, accepting the post as director of the kidney transplant program.

Scantlebury, who was born in Barbados, is also an author, having penned a book about her experiences called “Beyond Every Wall — Becoming the 1st Female Black Transplant Surgeon.”

While the entire event remains free, donations are accepted, and this year Givens said organizers will take an offering during the service.

“This is the first time in 30 years we’ll be taking an offering,” he said.

The funds collected will be split between restoration of the historic African American school on Booth Street and the speaker’s bureau for future King commemorations.

“This will help us bring in the best speakers.”

Breakfast will be served at 8 a.m., with the commemoration service to begin at 9 a.m.

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