The Medical Care Hero: An Insight into a Pathologist’s Day – Part 1

Author:  Dr. O. Adeyi

Mr. John Marshall is a middle-aged man who received a liver transplant more than a year ago. His own liver had failed after many years of fighting an infection with hepatitis C (HCV) virus. He has had to queue up on the waiting list for more than a year before he was called up one late night for a liver transplant – a night of mixed emotions for John and Cheryl, his wife, as well as Danielle, their 23-year old daughter. The fact that an organ was finally available for John was a cause for relief, especially since Cheryl and Danielle had previously been disqualified as live donors.

Before this night and several months earlier, the pathologist had examined a biopsy from Cheryl and thought it unsuitable to consider for live donation. On the pathologist’s advice, the transplant team announced to Cheryl she was not in a position to be John’s donor.

As a result, Cheryl has had to begin dietary and exercise regimen of her own. Despite strong protests from John, Danielle was willing to step forward as a live donor after Cheryl was no longer an option – however, Danielle was a few months pregnant. Any decision on Danielle would therefore have to wait a while.  Unfortunately, “a while” was a luxury John couldn’t afford and the family felt helpless as they watched John’s abdomen swell and his muscle waste away.

Just a few years back, John had dreamed of celebrating his 60th birthday that would coincide with their 25th wedding anniversary, both now only 15 months away.  There was only one way to save John’s life: a liver transplant.

So the call to John on this late night was a happy occasion, but mixed feelings were unavoidable.

Will the surgery be successful?

Will the liver from the unfortunate young man who had just died in a tragic motorcar accident work?

Will John be a “typical” recipient expected to experience the miracle of liver transplant and enjoy a new lease on life?d

Or will he be in the 1-5 % that has an adverse outcome that might include death?

Stay tuned for Part 2…

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