After waiting years for the miracle of a liver donation to help relieve her pain, this holiday season Mariana Avellan received that gift from someone closer than she might have ever imagined: her son.
On November 15, surgeons at NYU Langone Health successfully transplanted about 65 percent of Carlos Andres Loor’s liver to his mother, who had nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. After a few weeks in the hospital to ensure a healthy recovery, she was discharged home to Elmwood Park, New Jersey—just in time to spend Christmas with her family.
“At this hospital, the people are not just human beings, they are angels,” says Avellan, 65, a semiretired office clerk who was first listed for a liver transplant in 2017 but who was not prioritized for transplant due to a shortage of available organs.
Loor’s gift to his mother was thanks to an expansion of NYU Langone’s liver transplant program, which is part of the NYU Langone Transplant Institute, this past spring. This included the arrival of Adam Griesemer, MD, to serve as surgical director of the institute’s living donor liver transplant program.
“The most viable option for her was living donation,” says Dr. Griesemer, who is helping expand access to such liver donations. “Unfortunately, the prioritization system for liver transplants often requires a patient to have severe end-stage liver disease, despite the pain and impact on quality of life experienced by those who may not be eligible. Living donation is a solution to the organ shortage.”
When Loor, 29, first met Dr. Griesemer to discuss the possibility of donating part of his liver to his mom after seeing her in pain for so many years, he knew it was the right path to take.
“I remember when I walked out of that first meeting with him that I knew he cared deeply about getting my mom back to good health,” Loor says. “He was genuine and made me feel extremely safe.”
Karim J. Halazun, MD, surgical director for adult liver transplantation for the Transplant Institute, partnered with Dr. Griesemer on the living donor liver transplant surgery and expressed gratitude in being able to bring the family together again.
“Organ transplant is a life-altering procedure that extends and improves lives,” says Dr. Halazun. “We have built an incredible team this past year who care deeply about healing and do everything possible to make livers viable for donation and available to more people who are waiting.”
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