1000th Liver Transplant Performed at MedStar Georgetown

A 54-year-old woman from Beltsville, Maryland has become the 1000th person at the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute to receive a liver transplant. Gwen Shafer, suffering with end-stage liver failure, received her new liver on December 21, 2012. “For the transplant to happen just days before Christmas, it felt like the best Christmas gift ever. It’s incredible. I think it hasn’t fully hit me yet, just how incredible it is,” Ms. Shafer said.

December 28, 2012

MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute Hits Milestone Important to the Mid-Atlantic Region

(Washington, D.C.) – A 54-year-old woman from Beltsville, Maryland has become the 1000th person at the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute to receive a liver transplant. Gwen Shafer, suffering with end-stage liver failure, received her new liver on December 21, 2012. “For the transplant to happen just days before Christmas, it felt like the best Christmas gift ever. It’s incredible. I think it hasn’t fully hit me yet, just how incredible it is,” Ms. Shafer said.

“This 1000th liver transplant marks an important milestone in the liver program’s 14 and a half year history,” said Thomas Fishbein, MD, director of the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. “Reaching this milestone is important for the people of our region because larger volume centers with more experience achieve better transplant outcomes. The MGTI is the largest and most experienced center for all liver diseases, liver tumors and transplants in the Mid-Atlantic region and has the best survival rates in both pediatric and adult liver transplant recipients over a long period of time.”

The MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute has achieved a 95-percent one year patient survival rate.

“A thousand liver transplants, it’s amazing – that’s a lot of people,” said Ms. Shafer. “My understanding is that liver transplants are one of the more impressive surgeries people can go through and feel so much better than they did before.”

The six hour operation took a team of clinicians that was headed by transplant surgeon Chirag Desai, MD. “Ms. Shafer’s surgery went very smoothly and she is doing extremely well now after surgery. Her new liver is functioning normally and she could go home within the next week,” said Dr. Desai.

Ms. Shafer says her liver problems began in 2005 and got progressively worse. “It made me so tired – I was completely zapped of energy. I slept a lot throughout the day. I just wasn’t feeling as good as I was used to feeling.”

MedStar Georgetown’s liver transplant program had its first liver transplant in June 1998. About a year later, in 1999 surgeons performed the program’s first living related donor transplant. Living related donor transplants are a smaller percentage of the overall liver transplant cases at MGUH, but the option has set the program apart from others in the area. In those cases, the surgeon removes one side of a living donor’s liver and transplants it into the recipient. In 4-6 months, both the donor’s and the recipient’s liver grows back to full size.

Ms. Shafer received her liver from a deceased donor. “I certainly feel more happy and cheerful than I did before surgery, and my skin color is better. I know I still have the physical recovery ahead, but I’m optimistic,” she said.

In the future, Ms. Shafer hopes to get more active in her life – exercising more, returning to work. She has a PhD in Chemistry and used to work at the National Cancer Institute.

MedStar Georgetown’s very first liver recipient is still going strong almost 15 years after transplant as is the man who was the 500th liver recipient in 2007.

The MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute’s transplant capabilities include liver, including living donor liver transplants, small intestine, kidney, and pancreas transplants as well as multi-organ transplants, that is, any number of those organs transplanted at the same time. The MGTI also works with patients with organ failure to try and avoid transplant when possible.

Category : Transplant ,

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