Velma Patricia Scantlebury was born on 6 October 1955 in Goodland, St. Michael Parish, Barbados. In 1973, Scantlebury studied biology at Long Island University. In 1977, she graduated with her BS in biology, and chose to attend Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&S), in 1981.
Although she was discouraged from the the surgical faculty, Scantlebury completed her general surgery internship and residency at Harlem Hospital Center. In 1986, Scantlebury began her fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) School of Medicine. Between 1988 and 2002, Scantlebury worked as a transplant surgeon at the Pitt School of Medicine.
She earned her Doctor of Surgery in 1989, as the first African American woman transplant surgeon. That same year, she married Dr. Harvey White, and by 2002 she worked her way up to associate professor and was recruited by the University of South Alabama (USA) as a surgical professor and as director of the USA’s Gulf Coast Regional Transplant Centre. In her career, Scantlebury estimates she has completed over 2,000 transplants, and has published more than 85 peer-reviewed research papers, as well as 10 monographs and several book chapter.
Dr. Scantlebury’s special interests include: researching the end results of donation and transplantation in African-Americans; increasing organ donation in the African-American community through education and awareness; increasing the incidence of living donor transplantation by education; and treating viral infections in kidneys.