“Larry Bentley is a patient with hepatitis C, who was seen and evaluated at an outside hospital,” says Matthew Mulloy, M.D., a transplant surgeon at Piedmont Transplant Institute. “He developed a tumor in his liver, as many people with hepatitis C do when they develop scarring and cirrhosis in the liver.”
Bentley underwent a liver resection at another hospital, but went into liver failure following the operation. Because the facility was not equipped to treat his condition, he was referred to the Piedmont Transplant Institute.
“We are a referral source for liver failure in Georgia and the southeastern United States,” explains Dr. Mulloy.
Bentley says he remembers going into surgery in Albany, Ga., then waking up in the intensive care unit at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital.
“They moved him [to Piedmont] on May 26 of this year,” says Mindy Snyder, Bentley’s daughter. “I had seen him six days prior at the previous hospital and when he got here, he was a completely different person. His health had deteriorated so much that he looked completely different – he was so thin and didn’t look good at all. His mental state had declined because of the liver disease.”
Teamwork saves a life
To ensure Bentley was a good candidate for liver transplantation, he was seen by the Transplant Institute’s team of hepatologists, surgeons, social workers, dietitians and other staff members.
“The transplant team saw him and decided he would be an appropriate candidate for a transplant,” says Dr. Mulloy. “A lot of pieces are involved in that process and that’s where we come in as a transplant institute. We need a definite infrastructure to pull off something like that. That’s why outside physicians will refer patients to us.”
The team needed to act quickly, because aside from a transplant, there are no options for treating liver failure.
“There’s no liver dialysis, so when your liver fails, if there’s not one waiting for you, you’re not going to make it very long,” explains Dr. Mulloy.
A 5 percent chance of survival
“At the time, he was too sick for a transplant,” says Snyder. “They would not even put him on the list because they did not expect him to make it. We were told on May 28, Memorial Day, that he had a 5 percent chance of ever walking out of this hospital.”
Then, Bentley became strong enough to be placed on the liver transplant list. His name was added to the list on a Tuesday and he received a new liver the following Monday, making him the 500th liver transplant recipient at Piedmont Transplant Institute.
“He was listed for a short period of time because he was so sick the day we listed him,” says Dr. Mulloy. “He probably shot up very close to the top of the list the minute he was listed. We had a very short window. Had he been listed for weeks, he might not have made it.”
Dr. Mulloy credits teamwork and good timing for saving Bentley’s life.
“We were really lucky to get him at the point that we did and were lucky we were able to bring all of those things to the table because he really needed an entire team of people,” says Dr. Mulloy. “One physician could not have taken care of him.”
Bentley’s daughter says the Transplant Institute gave her hope when the odds of her father’s survival were slim.
“At that time, we didn’t have any hope that he was even going to make it, so to be here today is amazing,” says Snyder.
Bentley is grateful to the transplant team for giving him a second chance at life.
“’Thank you’ is really not enough, but I don’t know any other words to say,” says Bentley. “Thank you for saving my life.”
For more information about liver transplantation, visit the Piedmont Transplant Institute.