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Allegheny General Hospital Performs First Liver Transplant

28 year-old Mother of Three Recovering Well After November 1 Procedure

PITTSBURGH, Pa., Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- A 28 year-old Robinson Township woman has become the first patient to undergo liver transplantation surgery at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH).

AGH officials said the surgery, which took place on November 1, represents a milestone locally in the field of organ transplantation, providing end stage liver disease patients with a vital, new choice for surgical care.

"This program is a critical new resource for liver transplantation candidates in western Pennsylvania and the tri-state region, particularly those who have traditionally been referred out of state for surgery due to lack of access to a local transplant center. Though recently established, it affords patients access to a surgical team whose skill and experience rivals most in the nation," said Mark Roh, M.D., chairman of AGH's Department of Surgery.

Christine Berman was admitted to AGH on October 28 suffering from a sudden onset of acute liver disease called fulminant hepatic failure. An often rapidly fatal condition, she was immediately placed on the transplant list as a status 1A candidate and underwent liver transplantation surgery three days later.

The surgery was performed by Thomas V. Cacciarelli, M.D., director of Liver Transplantation at AGH, and Dr. Roh.

After the six-hour operation and a week in AGH's surgical intensive care unit, Berman 's new liver is functioning perfectly well, Dr. Cacciarelli said.

The mother of three young children, Berman said she and her family are most grateful for the care she received at AGH and for the availability of the donor organ that saved her life.

"I am alive today because of this hospital, because of these wonderful doctors and nurses and everyone else involved in the transplant program, and most importantly, because of the gift of life that was bestowed to me from an organ donor and their family. My children still have a mother because of all of these special people," Berman said.

Dr. Cacciarelli said Berman will now receive the standard post-transplant care regimen, including continuous monitoring of her liver function and for a period of time weekly visits to AGH's transplant clinic for routine diagnostic follow up.

"The success of Christine's surgery underscores the impressive level of expertise and sophistication that this program brings to the community. The severity of her liver disease was such that a multi disciplinary team approach was necessary for a successful outcome," said Dr. Cacciarelli.

The AGH team performed its second liver transplant on November 8. That patient too is recovering well, Dr. Cacciarelli said.

According to UNOS, more than 17,000 people in the U.S. are on the waiting list for liver transplantation, including approximately 2,537 people combined from the region that includes the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

UNOS data also shows that the demand for liver transplantation has been steadily increasing over the past five years.

Other key members of the AGH Liver Transplantation Program include Michael Dishart, M.D., chief anesthesiologist, Bryan Veynovich, M.D., critical care medicine and Jose Oliva, M.D., hepatologist and medical director of the program.

Paul Lebovitz, M.D., director of AGH's Division of Gastroenterology said that adding liver transplantation to the spectrum of advanced therapies for hepatic disease already offered at the hospital is an important step forward for AGH and for the region.

Under Dr. Lebovitz's direction, AGH's gastroenterology practice is the second largest program in western Pennsylvania and annually refers 20 to 30 patients to other hospitals for liver transplantation evaluation.

"The last thing a very sick patient needs at the most critical point in their disease management is to be sent to a healthcare facility and into the care of a medical staff that they are unfamiliar with. That hardship is particularly exacerbated when the new facility is hundreds of miles away in another state," said Dr. Lebovitz.

"Our program for the treatment of liver disease is among the most advanced in the country. Given that we provide the highest level of care for patients with end stage liver disease preoperatively and postoperatively, the ability to now meet their transplantation surgical needs is a tremendous advantage," Dr. Lebovitz said.

SOURCE Allegheny General Hospital
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