Patient Stories

Fighting Fibro, a Life-Threatening Liver Cancer | Columbia University Department of Surgery

Fibro is short for Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma, a wily and unpredictable disease that behaves differently from any other liver cancer. It’s ultra-rare, with only 200 new cases diagnosed in the world each year, and is devastating for teens and young adults. When Jackson Hendrix was diagnosed as an eighth-grader in 2015, a complex surgery saved his life. Now he wants to study medicine. Read the full story here »

Staying Healthy After Liver Transplant

On Super Bowl Sunday, 2013, Beverly Farran, a teacher who runs an afterschool program, had a dreadful cold. When her symptoms worsened, she went to a hospital for a chest x-ray. Because Beverly’s stomach hurt, the hospital took another picture and found a tumor on her liver. “I lost confidence in my local doctors,” Beverly says. “I wondered, How could they miss something this serious?” Read the full story here »

Flying Halfway Around the World for a Chance to Live

Haydee Yanesa came to NYP/Columbia from the Philippines after suffering for many years with chronic liver disease. Following the birth of her daughter in 2007, Haydee was told that she had hepatitis B. “My blood work was normal,” Haydee says, “so I didn’t pay any attention to it.” Read the full story here »

Jentai Tsai Wouldn’t Let Liver Cancer Slow Him Down

Jentai Tsai is no stranger to hard work. Coming to the US from Taiwan in the 1970s, he worked countless hours founding and developing the first bank in New York focused specifically on the needs of immigrant communities. Read the full story here »

Compassion in Action, Across the Miles

Four children in New York will get to grow up with their mother, thanks to a donor halfway across the nation. Read the full story here »

First Fully Laparoscopic Adult-to-Adult Liver Donation Saves Daughter's Life

Elle Haley – a 14 year old liver transplant recipient – received a portion of her father's liver in a groundbreaking fully laparoscopic adult-to-adult living donor transplantation. Read the full story here »

Liver transplant team makes sure 4-year old girl receives needed transplant in the midst of Hurricane Sandy

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After Donating Liver to Son, Grateful Father Celebrates Father's Day

Adam Bruzzese was able to donate a portion of his liver to son Charlie, born with liver disease, thanks to the laparoscopic donor procedure offered at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia. Read the full story here »

Reflections of a Living Liver Donor

By Susanne Mullman

In July 2009, I was a liver donor to my 21 year old daughter, Jen, whose liver failed due to autoimmune hepatitis. I first wrote about the experience in December 2009. Though I accurately captured the emotion and the gratitude I felt at the time, I glossed over many aspects of the journey. Our lives had not yet gotten back to normal, and although Jen would return to school in a few weeks, part of me was still holding my breath, overwhelmed by all we had been through and a little fearful of the future. Now, with the passage of time and watching Jen resume her life in continued good health, it is easier to write the story. Read the full story here »

From the City of Brotherly Love, A Brother's Liver Saves Sister

When 46-year-old Sharon Lupo started having stomach pains before Christmas, she brushed it off as a case of too much pre-holiday indulgence. But the pain persisted even after the holidays ended, landing her in the local emergency room. Many tests, scans, and biopsies later, she was shocked to learn the source of her pain: malignant epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, an extremely rare type of liver cancer. This type of cancer affects the lining of the blood vessels within the liver and strikes only 200 to 300 Americans each year. Read the full story here »

Journey to Health: Aidan Ward Thriving After Father Donates Liver

People are often surprised when they first learn that a living person may donate his or her liver — "don't you need your liver?" is a common question.

In fact, living donor liver transplantation, or LDLT, is not only possible, but is the optimal choice for patients who need a liver transplant. Read the full story here »

Columbia Patient Donates Left Lobe of Liver to Her Fiancé

When Megan Ellerd and Steven Ferretti met seven years ago, it was "instant love," she says. Not long after, the young couple found out that Steven had autoimmune hepatitis — but they didn't worry too much about it, hoping that it wouldn't affect them until much later in life. In 2008, however, the two were happily engaged when Steven's condition suddenly took a turn for the worse. His liver was failing, and he needed a transplant. Read the full story here »

Need a New Liver? Ask the In-Laws

Back in 2000, Elizabeth Macchio, an occupational therapist in her thirties, noticed herself feeling increasingly tired. Her local doctor found elevated levels of enzymatic activity in her liver, but even so, her condition eluded diagnosis for several more years. Finally, in 2004, a diagnosis was made: she had a rare autoimmune liver disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). The functioning of her bile ducts was gradually worsening — without a new liver, she would eventually die. Read the full story here »

"Thank you a thousand times over." Susan Balcirak's Letter to the CLDT

"Thank you a thousand times over for your selfless commitment to medicine and to your fellow human beings," writes Susan Balcirak in a letter to the CLDT team. Her son, Dean Balcirak III, had a living donor liver transplant on March 15th of 2004. He was 7½ months old. Dean's father, Dean Balcirak II, donated a portion of his own liver for the transplant. One year post-transplant, Dean's mother writes, "Dean truly is a normal little boy. He is a good size and growing fast, a typical toddler. We look back at a picture of him before his transplant and can't believe he is the same kid." Read the full story here »

Miracles Happen   The Story of Regina Williams

Regina Williams with her son, Paul Mladineo"Miracles happen. I believe that how I survived liver failure was a miracle, and it continues to affect me and those around me," writes Regina Williams, a retired college teacher. Gina went into liver failure from undetected autoimmune liver disease and had a transplant in 2004. Her son, Paul Mladineo, donated a portion of his own liver for the transplant. Several years post transplant, Regina is thriving "Paul and I are doing great, livers functioning perfectly," she says. Read the full story here »