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Woman's Abdominal Organs Removed in Unique Cancer Surgery
Date:3/24/2008

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"We had to move very quickly because the organs were removed from her body and she had no organs in the belly. And we had to move quickly to cut the tumor out," Tzakis said.

Once the tumor had been removed, Zepp's organs -- which had been kept chilled -- were placed back in her abdominal cavity and artificial blood vessels were put in and connected. In total, the organs were outside her body for about 90 minutes, Tzakis said.

Tzakis said the idea for the surgery was a natural extension of the work his team had been doing with multiple organ transplants.

"This is unique and brand-new, but pieces of the surgery were done before," Tzakis said. "We know how to remove organs -- we know how to put them in. We've done surgery to remove liver tumors, taking the liver out of the body, removing the tumor and putting the liver back in."

The Miami doctors have also performed similar operations removing tumors from intestines, Tzakis said. "So this came to us kind of naturally. We've done pieces, we just hadn't done the entire thing at one time," he added.

Zepp said she feels good. "I feel like I'm coming through a tunnel and I have a whole life ahead of me," she said.

She added: "I want the rest of the world to know that inoperable cancers can be operated on. Different cancer centers have different training and their own vision, and they don't think in the terms that a transplant surgeon would."

More information

For more on leiomyosarcoma, visit the American Cancer Society.



SOURCES: March 24, 2008, teleconference with Andreas Tzakis, M.D., director, The Transplant Institute, University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center; Brooke Zepp, Pompano Beach, Fla.


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