UAMS Performs State’s First Liver Transplant

By todd


LITTLE ROCK – A surgical team at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) performed the state’s first liver transplant May 14, UAMS officials announced today during a news conference. The patient, a 56-year old Hot Springs man, is in good condition at UAMS Medical Center and continues to recover from the procedure.


Greg Gilliland, who was suffering from end-stage liver disease, received the new liver in a surgical procedure of less than four hours led by Youmin Wu, M.D., director of the UAMS Solid Organ Transplant Program and professor of surgery in the UAMS College of Medicine. Wu said there were no surgical complications during the procedure and a full recovery is anticipated.


“This is an important event in Arkansas medical history with the introduction of another lifesaving technique for patients in the state,” said E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., dean of the College of Medicine. “Performing the state’s first liver transplant at UAMS follows the spirit of our mission to teach, heal, search and serve.”


Added Wu, “We are pleased to perform Arkansas’ first liver transplant. Mr. Gilliland continues to recover as expected from the surgery. Our new liver transplant program has gotten off to a smooth and successful start because of the work of our team and the wonderful facilities we have at UAMS.”


UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., praised Reece for having the plan to create a liver transplant program at UAMS.


“From the time he joined UAMS four years ago as dean of the College of Medicine, Al Reece has set liver transplantation as one of the major goals for the Department of Surgery and the College of Medicine. He and Dr. Michael Edwards, chairman of the Department of Surgery, brought an outstanding team together under the direction of Dr. Wu. It is a credit to Dr. Reece’s drive, his vision and his determination that the people of Arkansas now have a liver transplant program.


“The liver transplantation program is an undertaking that demands an incredible amount of teamwork, planning and hard work on the part of the College of Medicine and Dr. Wu’s team and many people at UAMS Medical Center including Richard Pierson, vice chancellor for clinical programs, and Chief Operating Officer Melissa Fontaine, who is here today,” Wilson said.


“UAMS has demonstrated its excellence by providing a new service to the citizens of Arkansas that will save many lives,” said Bill Fiser, M.D., medical director of the Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency (ARORA). “This first case went like clockwork, bringing together teams from ARORA and UAMS, as well as the outstanding surgical skills of Dr. Wu.”


During the procedure, Gilliland’s liver was removed by disconnecting it from the blood vessels and other structures that hold it in place in the abdomen. The new liver was put in place, connected and then blood flow was restored.


Gilliland is being cared for at UAMS Medical Center by a multi-disciplinary team that can monitor and assist his complete recovery. He is expected to be able to leave the hospital Tuesday and resume full activities in six weeks. The liver surgical team includes as many as 27 medical professionals.


“I feel wonderful,” Gilliland said. He and members of his family joined the liver transplant team at the news conference. Gilliland had been on the transplant waiting list for about three weeks.


“UAMS is proud to be the first hospital in the state to be able to offer this service to our patients,” said Fontaine, UAMS Medical Center’s chief operating officer.


Earlier this month, the new liver transplant program at UAMS was certified by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the nonprofit, scientific and education organization that administers the nation’s organ procurement and transplantation network.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has more than 2,200 students and 660 residents and is the state’s largest public employer with almost 9,000 employees. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $4.1 billion a year.


UAMS centers of excellence are the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy and Jackson T. Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institute.