It all started on Feb. 1, 1984 — the date of the first liver transplant at UCLA. Twenty-five years later, what was then considered an experimental procedure has become an accepted, effective treatment option. Pioneering surgeon Dr. Ronald Busuttil, founder and chief of the program, heads an extensive team of physicians, surgeons and nurses.
Patient story and video: Leiauna Anderson
Patient story: Lily Mandel
Visit the UCLA Transplantation website
When the liver transplant team decided to mark its 2009 anniversary, the event immediately became a two-part effort: a scientific symposium on Jan. 30-31, followed by a Feb. 1 "picnic in the park" for transplant recipients, their families, and donor families. The dual focus is only fitting, because the Liver Transplantation Program has impacted both specific patients and the wider medical community.
For patients like Lily Mandel Allen and Leiauna Anderson, liver transplants have been literally life-changing. Lily was an infant suffering from liver tumors. Leiauna was an expectant mother whose pregnancy took a tragic turn. Without liver transplants, it’s unlikely that either woman would have survived.
Both women speak gratefully of their donor families, people who, in the midst of tragedy, made the decision to give others the gift of life. At the picnic, doves will be released to fly into the sky, honoring the liver donors — almost 5,000 of them since the program began.
UCLA’s transplant recipients are not the whole story. UCLA’s impact is also felt across the country in other hospitals and medical schools. That’s because many of today’s transplant experts learned their skills at UCLA, where Dr. Busuttil and his team have trained more than 50 fellows.
Speakers at the symposium included many doctors who did residencies and/or fellowships at UCLA: Dr. John J. Brems (Loyola University Health System, Chicago); Dr. Andrew Cameron (Johns Hopkins); Dr. John Goss (Baylor College of Medicine); Dr. James Markmann (Massachusetts General); Dr. J. Michael Millis (University of Chicago Medical Center); Dr. Kim Olthoff and Dr. Abraham Shaked (University of Pennsylvania).
As the most active liver transplant program in the world, UCLA provides a research environment that has led to improved techniques, regimens and protocols. Appropriately, the formal title of the symposium was "A Quarter Century of Liver Transplantation at UCLA: A Scientific Symposium Celebrating the Past, Present and Future."
Read more about the Liver Transplantation Program at the new Transplantation Services website.