Carefully, with reverence for the gravity of the moment, in honor of the torch-passing from one life to the next, Dr. Diwan dips his hands into the sterile bath underneath the organ. He lifts the liver from the liquid. For just a moment, it gleams under the overhead lights, pristine, beautiful, a textbook liver. Just larger than a football, its lobes slope downward on either side like the wings of a stingray.
“Out of ice, 8:30.”
The surgeons nestle the organ into its new home. The clock starts.
Dr. Bailey’s task is suturing the donor liver’s vessels to the patient’s, now clamped to stop blood flow. The surgeon brings the sutures through, forever connecting donor to recipient. Her handwork is steady, crucial to the transplantation’s success.
“Come on,” Dr. Diwan cheers her on. Dr. Bailey pulls a suture through with a tool. “There you go. Good.” A senior fellow, Dr. Bailey is in the final years of her training.
“One more and then we move, OK?” Dr. Diwan instructs.
8:42 a.m. is when surgeons first mark their time. Minutes tick. The physicians move with purpose.
“Seven minutes.” That’s how much longer Dr. Bailey anticipates she needs.
It’s now 8:57 a.m.
“Reperfuse,” Dr. Diwan says. “Reperfuse,” two nurses echo in unison.
Surgeons unclamp the patient’s vessels, releasing blood into what is now Annette’s liver.
Debra Egbert, RN, transplant coordinator, knocks on the door to Annette’s room, a red UC Health bag stuffed with pamphlets and packets swinging from her arm.
It’s been about one week since Annette’s initial liver transplant surgery, which was followed just 12 hours later with a kidney transplant. She has since been moved from an intensive care unit to a floor with patients requiring less demanding medical care.