Hope and Health Restored With Lifesaving Liver Transplant

James Pope with family
James Pope, center, is grateful to MedStar Georgetown for his lifesaving liver transplant and is back to spending time with his family. From left to right, family dog Cooley, daughter Lauren, James, wife Angela, daughter Grace, and son Austin.

Twenty-two-year-old Lauren Pope doesn’t give up without a fight. When her 43-year-old father, James, a Marine veteran, was admitted to a community hospital in their hometown of Fredericksburg, Va., and was told he had advanced liver and kidney failure, Lauren and her boyfriend, Dale, refused to accept that her father’s only option was hospice care.

“Plain and simple, I couldn’t give up on my dad,” Lauren explains. “I knew we had to find other options quickly. He was extremely sick and in so much pain.” Lauren and Dale spent hours online researching liver transplant programs and found Amol S. Rangnekar, MD, at the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute. They contacted Dr. Rangnekar, who, with the help of the Transplant Institute’s Patient Navigator Bridget Busby, arranged for James to be transported by ambulance from Fredericksburg to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

“When Mr. Pope was admitted to MedStar Georgetown, he was very, very sick,” says Dr. Rangnekar. “His MELD score, a system used to assess the severity of liver disease, was more than 40. A score this high meant that he was at a high risk of dying in the near term. He was also requiring dialysis. We knew that urgent liver transplantation could restore his liver function and salvage his kidney function as well. Our transplant team evaluated him immediately upon his arrival and he was placed at the top of the transplant list.”

James Pope
James Pope’s liver and kidney function have
both returned to normal after a successful
six-hour liver transplant at MedStar
Georgetown. He credits his MedStar
Georgetown team with restoring his health
and hope for a full recovery.

Just six days later, a liver became available and transplant surgeons Raffaele Girlanda, MD, and Jason Hawksworth, MD, performed the successful six-hour transplant. “We do transplants every day. In fact, we did 135 liver transplants and more than 200 kidney transplants last year alone,” says Dr. Girlanda. “As one of the largest transplant programs in the country, we have a wealth of experience that benefits our patients. When a patient is as sick as Mr. Pope, we have two experienced transplant surgeons on the case so we can work as rapidly as possible.”

Thanks to the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute medical team, James’ liver function is normal and his kidney function has returned to normal levels without the need for a kidney transplant. He and his wife, Angela, a nurse, credit the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute’s team approach with his remarkable recovery.

“Everything the team did was completely coordinated,” says Angela. “They worked together to figure out the best way forward and were always happy to answer any questions we had. Thanks to them, my husband is healthy again.” Adds daughter Lauren, “I have my dad back.”

“At the other hospital, they gave me no hope, but when I arrived at MedStar Georgetown, it was a complete 180-degree flip,” says James. “They offered me not just hope, but solutions. It’s a two- to four-hour drive, depending on traffic, to get to MedStar Georgetown for my follow-up appointments, but it’s absolutely worth it for the quality of care I receive. Without the transplant team at MedStar Georgetown, I wouldn’t be here with my family today.”

Learn More

For more information about the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute, visit MedStarGeorgetown.org/LT or call 855-218-5229.