Peter H. – Living-Donor Liver Transplant Story


In dual surgeries at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and UPMC, Fox News Correspondent Catherine Herridge, underwent surgery on June 6, 2006 to donate part of her liver to her infant son, Peter. Peter's diseased liver was replaced with a portion of his mother's healthy liver. What follows is a brief account of Catherine's perspective on Peter's experience.

Catherine: "Peter was born in December of last year, and it was clear to us pretty quickly that he was sick and that his liver wasn't working. And by the time he was six weeks old, he was diagnosed with biliary atresia. Up until April, everyone we saw said they couldn't help us for sure, maybe we could try this, maybe we could try that, maybe he would get better. But when we came to Children's in April, it was really the first time that anyone told us that they really thought they could solve the problem. And it was hard to hear that he needed a liver transplant but I think we all knew that that's what was necessary, but Peter was very sick and deteriorated very quickly. That's when the people at Children's, Dr. Mazariegos, said you should really consider finding a living donor, and so they screened me first over at Montefiore. And by midnight it was clear that I could donate, and three weeks after that in June, we came here and Peter had the transplant.

And after the surgery, Peter spent a month in the ICU because he was just so weak, he had a lot of problems with infection and with lung collapse. And I really think the people in the PICU helped save him on a couple of different occasions. I have to really thank them for that. I felt the doctors were more interested in Peter than just, you know, a patient. And I certainly thought that was true with the nursing staff, as well.

I guess what I would say to the staff is that, I had never been surrounded with so many people who just kind of lived to give. People always ask me, "What's ahead for Peter?" And I say, "Well, I don't really know what's ahead, but Peter has a future now." And six months ago I don't think it was clear that Peter really had a future. I think he probably would have died in the summer if he hadn't had his surgery here.

I felt that when they were treating Peter, the doctors, the nurses, the whole team, because what I see now is that it takes a team to help a kid through a transplant. The surgery is really just one part of it. What they did for him was really like a miracle, and I don't really know how to thank people for that. How do you thank people who gave your kid another chance? But it really makes me upset to even think about it now but I really want to thank them."

Children's has continued to be a leader in developing many quality of life improvements for transplant patients, such as greater life expectancy, shorter hospital stays, and reduced medications. This allows children to return to doing what they do best, being kids.

Dr. Mazariegos: I believe that quality of life is really the most important thing that we look at in terms of determinant of outcome for these kids and their families. We want to really improve and restore their quality of life and we consider transplants successful when that has happened. These children are looking, not only to overcome their liver failure or their intestinal failure, but really to be normal kids again. And so when we look at the determinants of outcome we're not satisfied at only outstanding survival rates but we really need to make sure that we're ensuring as normal a life outcome as possible.

We believe that referring physicians will want to consider Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for their transplant care and their patient needs because of the communication that we have, because of the responsiveness to seeing patients of whatever complexity level or whatever illness level they have, and because of the outcomes that we have been able to achieve over the years.

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