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Liver transplant recipient becomes life mentor

Making a difference as a life mentor

Andy Donnelly had never had any health issues, "not even a cavity," he said. "Then I came up with the weirdest cancer possible." A biopsy revealed Andy had an extremely rare type of cancer that causes tumors in the linings of the blood vessels of the liver. When he received his liver transplant his organ weighed 16 pounds – normal human livers weigh about four pounds.

Liver Diseases

We provide expert treatment for all types of liver disease. Our liver transplant team will thoroughly assess your condition to determine your best option for treatment. Before and after your liver transplant, they will answer your questions and provide you with care and support. These are some of the most common types of liver conditions that may require transplant.

Alcoholic liver disease

Alcohol misuse can lead to either severe inflammation of the liver (alcoholic hepatitis) or may cause chronic inflammation of the liver, which can lead to cirrhosis.

Alpha 1 – antitrypsin deficiency

A genetic disorder leading to abnormal amounts of protein depositing in liver cells, this is the most common genetic cause of liver disease in newborns and children. It may also appear in adulthood, and it can ultimately lead to hepatitis or cirrhosis. 

Autoimmune hepatitis

This inflammation of the liver occurs when the immune system abnormally attacks liver cells. The exact cause of autoimmune hepatitis is not known, but the disease is likely triggered by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Ongoing damage from autoimmune hepatitis can lead to cirrhosis. 

Cancer

Cancer that starts in the liver is called primary liver cancer. The most common form of primary liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma. Those with cirrhosis or certain types of chronic liver disease (like hepatitis B or C) are at much greater risk of developing liver cancer.

Cirrhosis

This occurs in response to damage to the liver from many different types of liver diseases and results from progressive scarring of the liver. When the liver is injured, it forms scar tissue as it tries to heal. As more scar tissue is deposited in the liver, the liver does not function as well and can fail. 

Hepatitis B

A viral liver disease, hepatitis B is a common cause of worldwide liver infection. Infants and children are more likely to develop chronic hepatitis B infection if exposed to the virus at a young age. Most adults infected with hepatitis B virus will clear the virus without long-term complications. Chronic hepatitis B increases the risk of developing cirrhosis and liver cancer.

A vaccine can prevent hepatitis of B, but there is no cure. Infected individuals need to take precautions to prevent spreading hepatitis B to others.

Hepatitis C

This is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus. It is most often spread by exposure to contaminated blood or sexual contact. Chronic hepatitis C infection increases the risk of developing cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Once difficult to treat, hepatitis C can now be addressed with many options for treatment or cure by oral medications taken daily for only a few months. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of those in the United States with hepatitis C do not know they have the infection. A one-time screening blood test is recommended for everyone at increased risk of infection or born between 1945 and 1965.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

A term used to describe several conditions in which too much fat is stored in liver cells, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis – fatty liver disease – is a more severe form of the disease which can lead to liver inflammation and may ultimately progress to scarring and cirrhosis or liver failure. It is one of the most common forms of chronic liver disease, affecting an estimated 80 to 100 million people in the United States. Risk factors for the development of fatty liver disease include being overweight, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Primary biliary cirrhosis

This is an autoimmune disease of the liver and liver bile ducts. As this occurs, the liver can be damaged and become scarred. Many patients have no symptoms and are diagnosed through the appearance of an abnormality on routine blood testing.

Primary sclerosing cholangitis

Another autoimmune/inflammatory disease of the liver which causes scarring of the bile ducts, this conduction causes the ducts to narrow. Over time, the inflammation can lead to repeated infections, tumors of the bile duct and cirrhosis.

While liver transplantation can be a cure of primary sclerosing cholangitis, care for patients with this disease focuses on treatment of symptoms and, if necessary, procedures that can open blocked bile ducts.