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Patricia Donato – Liver Cancer & Liver Transplant Success Story

Hit the road, cancer!

Patricia Donato – Liver Cancer & Liver Transplant Success Story "I don't know what other hospitals do,
but this hospital lets you know they're going
to be there for you forever," says
Patrica Donato, who calls The Liver Institute
at Methodist Dallas her family

Patricia Donato considers The Liver Institute at Methodist Dallas Medical Center a second home.

"They're my family," she says. "For the rest of my life, as long as I'm living in the state of Texas, I will be connected to Methodist."

Such devotion and affection stems from the "astronomical" team who saved the 59-year-old Lewisville resident from liver cancer and gave her a new liver.

While Donato has been under the care of The Liver Institute since 2007 for hepatitis C and cirrhosis, things took a turn for the worse in spring 2010. The team found a tumor.

The right place

The Liver Institute team responded to Donato's liver cancer diagnosis with a procedure called transarterial chemoembolization (TACE).

"With this treatment, we block off the blood supply to the cancer after injecting chemotherapy directly into the tumor," says Parvez Mantry, MD, medical director, hepatobiliary tumor program, and independently practicing transplant hepatologist on the Methodist Dallas medical staff. "Because the chemotherapy doesn't enter the circulatory system, patients don't feel its side effects.

"We're among the few programs in Texas that combine targeted treatments – such as radiofrequency ablation, internal and external radiation therapy, arterial embolization, and minimally invasive surgical procedures – to achieve the best results in patients with liver cancer."

The Liver Institute has a strong liver transplant department that comprises a team of highly experienced hepatologists, surgeons, oncologists, and interventional radiologists.

"We are all about providing prompt service," Dr. Mantry says. "At a university medical center, patients with these conditions can wait up to two months before getting treatment. Our goal is to start treatment for our patients within two weeks after initial diagnosis."

The right time

TACE did the trick for containing Donato's cancer and bumped her up on the transplant list. At 4 a.m. on Oct. 7, 2011, she got the call.

"They had a liver for me," Donato says. "'Oh my God' – that's all I could say the whole way to the hospital."

By the next morning, her devastated liver was gone – along with the cirrhosis and cancer – and she was up and walking.

"I felt blessed that I had this opportunity for my life," she says. "It's amazing how you start to see things differently. You appreciate every little thing."

Now cancer-free, Donato's mission is to encourage others to become organ donors – like the young woman who donated the liver that Donato received.

"I knew somewhere in that girl's life, someone had shown her some kind of compassion, and she had passed that compassion on to me," Donato says. "I wasn't a donor up to that point, but I sure have that heart on my license now."

From the summer 2012 edition of Shine magazine.