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UPMC Lock Haven Hospital patients share their experiences

PHOTO PROVIDED David Kline is one of the first patients to participate in the Living Donor Liver Transplant Evaluation Clinic at UPMC Williamsport and received his liver transplant last fall. David is one of many patient stories for the clinic that we’re looking forward to sharing.

A stranger gave Dave the gift of life

Not long ago, David Kline, 59, of Winfield, was in a fight for his life after being diagnosed with end-stage liver disease. The liver is a vital organ as it helps remove toxins from the body, and when damaged by underlying disease, genetic disorders, obesity, or alcohol abuse, it stops functioning.

Dave was diagnosed with cirrhosis caused by Alpha-1 Antitrypsin deficiency, a genetic disorder which can lead to chronic liver disease, and the ammonia levels in his body rose to dangerous levels – making him very sick, combative, and confused. Dave and his wife, Wanda, made regular trips to the emergency department to manage the symptoms before meeting Puneet Basi, MD, FACP, FACA, AGAF, gastroenterologist/hepatologist at UPMC Williamsport.

Dr. Basi leads UPMC’s Williamsport-based Liver Transplant Evaluation Clinic. It’s through this clinic that Dr. Basi referred Dave to Swaytha Ganesh, MD, medical director, UPMC Living Donor Program, Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute in Pittsburgh. Dr. Ganesh and other transplant specialists travel regularly from Pittsburgh to Williamsport to see patients with chronic liver disease. The specialists evaluate patients with liver disease, assess their eligibility for living donor surgery, and care for them post-transplant.

“Before we started receiving care through UPMC, we were struggling,” remembers Wanda. “Dave didn’t think he would be able to travel for regular care, so being able to go to Williamsport gave us peace of mind.”

PHOTO PROVIDED Steve Bason received care at UPMC Lock Haven’s Emergency Department for what he thought might be a stroke and his experience now makes UPMC LH his hospital of choice.

In January 2019, Dave found out his liver was only functioning at 20%. The need for a liver transplant was critical and he was put on the waiting list a month later.

On any given day, there are approximately 17,000 people in search of a healthy liver on the transplant waitlist. Sadly, 25% of the people on the list will die before receiving a transplant.

Unlike other organs, a healthy liver can regenerate, offering patients the option for living donation. During a living donation, a portion of the healthy liver is transplanted from a donor to the patient and the patient’s unhealthy liver is completely removed. It’s a serious surgery, however most patients and donors recover within eight-to-10 weeks.

Dave and Wanda’s children were some of the first to be tested to see if they were a match. Unfortunately, they were not a match for their father. Luckily, the family was able to tap into resources available through UPMC’s Living Donor Champion Program to help in their search for a match.

Although the doctors had prepared the Klines for a long wait on the transplant list, they got the phone call they had been waiting for in March – they found a match. Dave had surgery on May 2, 2019, and just 17 days later, he returned home with a new liver.

PHOTO PROVIDED Hunter Showers was riding his sled with family when he was injured and needed orthopaedic surgery. Dr. Wingrove T. Jarvis, UPMC Lock Haven, performed Hunter’s surgery. Hunter is now back on the baseball field and his mother credits that to Dr. Jarvis and the care providers at UPMC.

Today, Dave returns to Pittsburgh every three months for follow-up appointments, but all other tests and blood-work are done locally at UPMC Williamsport.

Dave and Wanda are active in advocating and helping raise awareness for organ donation, especially living donor organ donation.

“We know how hard it can be, and we want others on the wait list to know they aren’t in it alone,” said Wanda. “There are many ways to secure a donor and we can all help each other. We hope sharing our story will make others aware of living donation and encourage more donors.”

Learn more about living donor liver transplants at UPMC.com/LivingDonorLiver.

Steve Bason’s Emergency Department Story

MILL HALL –Steve Bason knew something didn’t feel right and it was scary. His tongue wasn’t functioning normally, and the left side of his face was drooping.

Although Steve wasn’t sure what it was, his wife recognized the symptoms as a possible stroke, and called their doctor who advised Steve to immediately get to the closest emergency department.

“I was in disbelief,” says Steve. “I was still making jokes, however the doctor said I could be having a stroke.”

Steve lives in Mill Hall, so the closest emergency department is UPMC Lock Haven.

“I was so impressed with how quickly everything happened,” says Steve. “The person at the registration desk recognized my slurred speech, got on the phone, and within moments I was in a room, then getting a CT scan. The doctor determined it was Bell’s palsy, a condition which causes paralysis to one side of your face. I am thankful that it wasn’t a stroke. We live in an area with many health care options, and I can confidently tell friends, the care at UPMC Lock Haven is great, and I wouldn’t hesitate to go there.”

For more information on all the services available at UPMC Lock Haven, visit UPMCSusquehanna.org.

Hunter Showers’ Orthopaedics Story

HANEYVILLE — Hunter Showers, like most 15-year-olds, loves to sled in fresh snow and show off in front of his younger brother.

Last winter while Hunter was sledding at his aunt and uncle’s house in Haneyville, something unexpected happened.

“I wanted to be the first down the hill,” Hunter said. “I was heading toward an old tractor, so I put my foot down to stop myself, and then my brother went by me.”

Hunter’s mom, Amber, said that is when Hunter knew something was wrong. Hunter’s uncle was quick to act and headed straight to UPMC Lock Haven. X-rays showed Hunter had broken his leg in several places and would need surgery. Amber was referred to Wingrove T. Jarvis, MD, orthopaedic surgeon, to perform Hunter’s surgery.

Hunter wasn’t scared during this entire experience; he was mainly worried about his future in baseball. As captain of his high school baseball team, he lives and breathes baseball.

“Everyone included Hunter in the decisions. They didn’t just speak to me, they spoke directly to him,” said Amber. “They were very careful to explain everything, and they never ignored his voice. Following months of therapy, he was able to get back on the field last fall.”

If you’ve experienced an injury and are looking to get back in the game, call the specialists at UPMC Orthopaedics at 570-321-2020.

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