As you know Tuesday I had my meeting with Dr Jorge Reyes, head of the Liver Transplantation Unit at the UW. He is one of the top liver surgeons in the country and will be doing my surgery whenever that happens. He initially met with me 7 months ago and said the tumor was too large to operate without the risk of killing me. He told me chemo is my friend and I needed to pound the tumors to shrink them. He is an amazing guy- from Ecuador. When I asked him why he came to the US he said, “Because my parents were starving.”

Anyway, he presented my case to the UW liver tumor panel yesterday which is a collection of many of the top surgeons in the area. I had been hoping for a surgery that would enable the removal of my liver tube. The assessment of the panel is that particular surgery is too risky because of the bacterial infection in my liver. Dr Reyes words to Dr Lee were “This is a gargantuan surgery and I don’t know if Don would survive the operating table”. This is quite a statement considering Dr. Reyes surgical expertise. Earlier in the year Dr. Reyes performed a complete intestinal transplant in an 8 year old boy.

Right now I have a fistula connecting the colon and liver which means the liver is continuously being exposed to colon material which keeps the infection flourishing. The infection, gram negative rods, can kill me very easily if it gets into my abdomen. I have already had it in my bloodstream which wiped me out and put me in the hospital a few weeks ago. Just fighting the liver infection keeps me very low on energy right now.

The doctors cannot tell if the tumor is dead and what is normal tissue or cancerous tissue. Since the lung tumor has responded so well to chemo Dr. Reyes feels that the liver tumor is responding the same way. The problem is we just can’t see it clearly on the CT scans to tell. So I still have surgery but it is for a colostomy. Instead of one bag I will now have two! Oh boy! Although this was initially discouraging to me, the strategy to isolate the liver from the colon is the safest possible way to heal the liver and is brilliant, according to Dr Doug Lee. Heather was not at peace with the major surgery but feels very good about this surgery.

Isolating the liver for 1-2 months will enable us to kill the infection so the rest of the surgery can be completed. There is a chance further surgery will not be necessary other than removing the colostomy. This surgery is not without risk however since it is the first time they will see the tumor. It is possible I have tumors along the colon that cannot be seen by CT scan. Of course we are hoping and praying that there are no other small tumors. The good news is this surgery is done laparoscopically through my navel. Recovery is just a few days instead of 2-3 months and I will be able to travel in the summer without worry of infection.

Right now the surgery is set for the 12th of June but we are trying to move it up. I am told we are being treated like royality at the UW. I have an appointment with my surgeon Andrew Wright tomorrow. He squeezed me in otherwise his normal appointments are full into late July. I was hoping to move up the surgery but was told that the operating rooms are filled to August. We should count our blessings.

I am also going in for another blood transfusion tomorrow. The family always gets excited when this happens because I have a lot more energy. I am hoping we can enjoy this beautiful weather at Whidbey over the weekend.

Thank you again for your prayers and thoughts. It continues to be clear we are out of control on this journey.

God is in Control and that is Good, All the Time, That is Good!


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1 Comment so far

  1. inga on May 31, 2007 11:33 am

    Don. Thank you for our time yesterday. I continue to be so blessed for your support and encouragement in my life. I love getting to pray with you. I was thinking about when Jesus said, “In this world you will have troubles. But take heart, I have overcome the world”. Wow! He has overcome all–victory over everything. What a God we serve. I love you.


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