White’s liver surgery canceled
Jimmy White, 26, of Corydon was ready to receive a liver transplant from his cousin, Joe Hemmelgarn, on May 14, but the surgery that was to have taken place at the University of North Carolina Hospital at Chapel Hill, to save his life, has been canceled indefinitely.
The surgery was canceled because one of the four surgeons to be involved in the procedure broke his hand and because of a rash of bad publicity following the death of a live liver donor in a New York City hospital.
“All the bad publicity that Mount Sinai Hospital received in the New York press following the death of a live liver donor there has made many hospitals leery about doing live donor liver transplant surgery until they are able to reassess their programs,” said Marilyn Hemmelgarn White, Jimmy’s mother.
“Liver transplant surgery is actually more dangerous for the donor than for the recipient because the liver is a vascular organ and there is a risk of bleeding which cannot be stopped,” White said. “Transplants from deceased donors don’t present that problem.
“For the donor, liver transplant surgery is elective surgery.”
Jimmy White’s cousin Joe is a soldier in Germany. He agreed to donate a piece of his liver to save his cousin’s life as soon as he heard about Jimmy’s condition.
The surgery is on hold until a hospital can be found that will allow a liver transplant from a live donor.
Last week the Whites were told by Jimmy’s Tri-Care worker to explore other hospitals that might agree to doing the surgery, and several were approached.
A surgeon from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., called the Whites and said he was optimistic about doing the surgery because they had recently performed four live liver donor transplants there without a problem.
Jimmy’s medical records are being transferred there this week for consideration. If approved, Jimmy and Joe will both be evaluated there before the surgery can be done.
Presently, Jimmy is co-listed with the North Carolina hospital and Walter Reed, waiting to see which will be able to help him first.
“Jimmy’s condition has worsened, and he becomes weaker and yellower from the disease all the time,” White said. “He has had to cut his working hours at Caesars to 24 a week, and he spends much of his time resting and sleeping.”
Jimmy’s disease, primary sclerosing cholangitis, is a non-alcohol-related disease which causes liver inflammation and scarring. It also contributes to ulcerative colitis, which causes the large intestine to become inflamed so nutrients cannot be absorbed from food. Ulcerative colitis has no cure but can be treated with medicine.
“Right now, we just wait to see what will happen,” White said. “Maybe this is God’s way of telling us we shouldn’t have the surgery on May 14.”
The Friends of Jimmy White will sponsor two fund-raisers for Jimmy’s surgery fund. A benefit dance will take place Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Eagles Lodge, 1500 S.R. 62, Corydon, and a Hymn Sing will be presented at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 312 E. High St., Corydon, May 2 at 7 p.m. All funds raised are administered for Jimmy White by the National Transplant Assistance Fund.