June 1, 2009

After Four Years, UAMS Liver Transplant Program Has Near Perfect Results

 Lynn Reynolds said she is grateful for UAMS’ liver transplant program.
Lynn Reynolds said she is grateful for UAMS’ liver transplant program.

June 1, 2009| Lynne Reynolds’ journey to UAMS started with a tumble down 19 stair steps.

“I blacked out,” Reynolds said of that September 2007 mishap, which resulted in an ambulance ride to the nearest hospital, an eventual diagnosis of nonalcoholic liver cirrhosis and a liver transplant.

Mike Scott’s path to a UAMS liver transplant began on Christmas Eve with flu-like symptoms and his wife, Laura, telling him days later that he looked jaundiced.

Scott, of Hot Springs, and Reynolds, of Austin (Lonoke County), are just two of 108 UAMS liver transplant recipients since the transplant program was established four years ago under the direction of Youmin Wu, M.D.

Wu has built a program with near perfect survival rates. His team includes Frederick Bentley, M.D., a liver transplant surgeon, and Gary Barone, M.D., a kidney and pancreas transplant surgeon who also assists with liver transplants.

In January, the Scientific Registry for Transplant Recipients reported that UAMS’ one-year patient survival rate was 98.25 percent, compared with the national average of 87.85 percent.

“We have an experienced team that works well together,” Wu said. “Their expertise ensures the best possible outcome for our patients.”

Having performed almost 1,000 liver transplants, Wu’s personal one-year transplant survival rate is 97 percent and 100 percent for his pediatric transplant patients.

To be placed on the donor list, Reynolds had to lose 40 pounds to improve her chances of survival. She said her experience with UAMS before, during and after surgery couldn’t have been better under the circumstances.

“I had to call in a few times after-hours, and they would always call back,” she said. “I never felt like a number.”

Today Reynolds, a certified public accountant, is exercising five hours a week to maintain her new, lower weight.

“I haven’t felt this good in 10 years,” said Reynolds, 47.

Scott, 52, a senior vice president at Stephens Inc., said he couldn’t be happier with the care he received.

“The people at UAMS are beyond belief as far as their professionalism and the care I got,” he said. “Dr. Wu walks in and five or six doctors are right behind him. There was a constant flow of information. The culture there is absolutely phenomenal.”

The UAMS liver transplant program quickly earned coverage from Medicare and is covered by virtually all health insurance carriers in Arkansas, said UAMS’ RT Fendley, senior associate hospital director.

“We’re extremely pleased with the excellent results achieved by our liver transplant team,” Fendley said. “In the four years since it began, our program has become a national leader in clinical outcomes and efficiency. Arkansans who have liver disease or who need a liver transplant now have the opportunity to receive care from a top-notch program without having to travel out of state.”