Packer Loss, Program Milestone: The 2,000th Liver Transplant

Madison, Wisconsin -  January 12, 2013. A dark day for the Green Bay Packers faithful in Wisconsin.


As the third quarter rolled into the fourth and it became clear that the very large men in green and gold would not engineer a miraculous comeback against the San Francisco 49ers, ardent fan Scott Vanderloop decided to leave his sister's Packer party early.


"My brother-in-law asked me to stay until the end of the game," says Scott, a 55-year-old Appleton resident. "I said I can listen to them lose on the radio on the way home."


The evening's despondency transformed into shock and exhilaration the subsequent morning. Scott was making breakfast when his cell phone rang.


"I saw the 608 (area code)," Scott says. "That's Madison."


And Madison meant the call was the UW Health Transplant Clinic, telling Scott they had a donor liver and they needed him at UW Hospital by 2pm for transplant surgery.


Scott's successful liver transplant was the 2,000th in the history of the UW Health Transplant program, making them one of 12 programs (of 160) nationwide to reach the milestone.


"This is certainly a proud accomplishment for our liver transplant program and a testament to all the dedicated professionals who've worked so hard to help improve the lives of our patients and their families," said  Dr. Tony D'Alessandro, director of the UW Hospital liver transplant program.


Scott, who was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1990 and had ablation surgery for a liver tumor in August prior to being put on the transplant waiting list, credits one of those dedicated professionals, liver transplant coordinator Mary Douglas, with helping him understand the sometimes bewildering mountain of information involved in the transplant process.


"You have a lot of stuff going through your head," Scott says. "But Mary was my connection. (The transplant team) is very straightforward with the process and they do a lot of explaining."


Explaining, says Mary, is a big part of her job.


"Our role is to be an advocate for the patient," she says. "We coordinate what our physicians are saying with what his local physicians are saying. And a large part of it is education about liver disease and what they can expect with their case."


Transplant surgery requires avid patient participation. There are clinic appointments and laboratory work and medication protocols that need to be understood and adhered to. Once transplant was established as the best course of treatment, Mary worked with Scott to plan his post-transplant life.


"It's overwhelming," Mary says. "I tell patients we do about 5 percent of the work and they do 95 percent. We can give them the liver. We have very good surgeons and staff. They have to take the medication and go to the lab and come back to clinic. They have to get re-engaged in life."


Scott, whom Mary calls "an extremely compliant, thoughtful, diligent patient," did his part.


"He was very meticulous and always came to his clinic appointments and always got his CT scans on time," she says. "I could tell by his drive and enthusiasm that he knew he'd really be able to get his life back (after transplant)."


That's exactly what Scott is doing, saying the experience "just gives me a whole different outlook. My perspective on my brother and sisters and my mother, that's all changed. Things worked out really good, and my friends are just amazed at my progress."

Date Published: 05/06/2013

News tag(s):  transplant

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