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Hanks' medical story would lend itself well to a movie or memoir, even if his story is a bit extreme. Or perhaps unbelievable.
A small intestine.
A large intestine.
And another liver?
Not by name had I heard of multi-visceral transplantation -- or the replacement of multiple organs during the same operation. Nor had I known that all of these organs are replaceable, or that the odds of their replacement are favorable.
According to the Health Resources & Services Association, 17 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant. That may compound if waiting for multiple organs. At the center of the six organs is Phillip Hanks, a Chicago-area man no older than 50 when he braved the multi-visceral transplantation in 2021. The possible origin of his Hepatitis -- specifically, Hepatitis C -- isn't far-fetched. However, the complications from treating a random onset of course pain led to a second liver transplant in his lifetime.
I recall a couple of acquaintances who I knew who had Hepatitis, but my introduction to complications from it came by fictional depiction. In the short story Saboteur (Ha Jin), the professor's liver seemed to embalm itself or froth in its diseased state. It was very disturbing.
That isn't to overlook the willingness of the organ donors or their families, who remain anonymous to Hanks. Nor the physical endurance, mental stamina, and pressure required by Dr. Mangus and his surgical team at Indiana University Health. They performed the transplants over two consecutive days, which totaled 12 hours. The first day alone was more than 7 hours.
I finished this article queasy. Unless a passing injury or the last stage of a life well-lived, I didn't want to witness human frailty. It was growing up that I got my first sense of it as a visitor to loved ones recuperating from medical events such as complication from HIV/AIDS or a school trip interrupted by what became a friend's pediatric cancer diagnosis. In adulthood, further, a dear former coworker began to miscarry while on the job and another collapsed red-faced on the concrete of the same job.
It's affirming that Hanks was undergoing training for ministry after braving and surviving the nexus of medicine and miracle. I can only hope that circumstances won't call for it in my life, to say the least.
A comment on "A Joliet father of six has five new organs after an extraordinary transplant. ‘We never knew this was possible.’" (D. Rockett)
Jubalyn ExWilliams lives in Pennsylvania (United States). Her website is updated at landturn.com.
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