Leader Blues

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

EDITORIAL>> Transplanted with pride

Greg Gilliland had rich cause to celebrate this week, but only in degrees more than the rest of us. Gilliland, a social worker who lives at Hot Springs, was the first recipient of a liver transplant at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences campus.
UAMS is a world-class medical institution, a distinction hard-earned the past 25 years under the stewardship of the magnificent Harry Ward.

People come from all over the world to its cancer institute, and it is one of the premier institutions in several disciplines.

It has been doing organ transplants for 40 years, one of the first in the South. But Arkansas until this month was one of only two states that had no liver-transplant program. Now, Mississippi is the lone desert in this vital field.

Arkansas recruited Dr. Youmin Wu from Iowa, one of the leading practitioners in the field, to direct the organ-transplant program. The United Network Organ Sharing, a nonprofit organization that administers the nation’s organ procurement and transplantation network, certified the liver transplant program at UAMS early this month.

Two days after his surgery, Gilliland was wheeled into a conference room for a press conference about his breakthrough operation. He was grateful and hopeful, as are we all. Transplants are the only hope for people with end-stage liver diseases, and the exigencies of distant travel put Arkansans at considerably higher risk, even though about 100 of them are on liver waiting lists in other states.

Many die because there are not enough donors near enough. Dr. Wu said the team hoped to perform about 100 transplants a year.
Dr. Wu’s and UAMS’ accomplishment is both a ray of hope and a source of pride.

To them we say, thank you.