Boston Patient Learns About Double Listing Through Video Chat with Surgeon
Patient Double-Lists and Gets Transplant at Maryland
Liver transplant surgeons are available for consultation with patients with liver disease interested in double- or multiple- listing via the Liver Transplant Program’s e-visit option. The e-visit program is an innovative, highly successful, remote-care strategy to increase access to liver transplantation. Patients can meet and interact with the providers via desktop computer, iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone. To schedule a conversation with the liver team, call 1-410-328-5941.
Thomas Travers was terrified of flying. Thankfully, a video meeting on his smartphone spared him a flight to Baltimore to learn about double-listing for a liver transplant at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Weeks later, he did have to board a plane, but that time it was because he had received the phone call that would change his life.
Thomas and his wife Peg Travers live in Quincy, Massachusetts. Thomas began showing signs of liver failure in February 2013 and was diagnosed with a liver tumor five months later. He was listed for a liver transplant at a local transplant center in Massachusetts in August 2013 but was deactivated while he underwent chemo embolization to shrink the size of his tumor.
When Thomas began to rapidly decline in March 2014, they began looking for other options.
A family member told the Travers about the liver team at the University of Maryland Medical Center and said, “Call the liver transplant team. They can talk to you about your options for double-listing if you’re not satisfied with the pace at which your local center is moving.”
Thomas couldn’t face flying to Baltimore to learn more, but he was desperate for a program that could help get him transplanted as he grew sicker. Thomas and Peg reached out to Dr. Rolf Barth, chief of liver transplantation and Tara McDonald, liver transplant coordinator and scheduled a time to “meet” via a video chatting application on their phones.
“Since Thomas was already on a primary wait list at a transplant center near his hometown, our smart phones provided a perfect way to meet the Travers and educate them on the benefits of double-listing at another center to increase his chances of getting transplanted,” said Barth. “We are seeing an increase in the use of video media to talk with other doctors and patients when they need to get listed at a second or third transplant center. The ultimate goal is to give patients the greatest access to information, and that might mean using technology to look beyond their local transplant program.”
Barth and McDonald explained to Peg and Thomas that joining the transplant wait list at more than one institution could increase his chances of getting transplanted faster. UMMC’s liver transplant team is known for transplanting and achieving strong outcomes with patients whom other centers might pass over.
“The key for me was hearing Dr. Barth say he could give me 12 hours notice before my transplant,” said Thomas. “If I was going to have to hop a plane from Boston, I needed enough heads up to book a flight and get here in time.”
Thomas was double-listed for liver transplantation at UMMC on April 3, 2014. On April 28 – just three weeks later – he got the magic phone call and flew to Baltimore for a life-saving liver transplant.
“Mr. Travers had the highest MELD score of any patient on our transplant wait list, so when an organ became available, he’s the one we called,” said Barth. “Double-listing at UMMC saved his life.”
Patients with liver cancer, like Thomas, are ideal candidates for double- or multiple-listing with UMMC.
“Patients with liver cancer tend to be mobile enough, even with high MELD scores, to travel for a liver transplant when an organ becomes available at a location farther from home,” said Steve Hanish, MD, director of hepatobiliary surgery at UMMC. “In addition to transplanting the patient, we provide other aggressive down-staging treatments to help patients shrink their tumors and become eligible for the transplant wait list.”
Criteria for double- or multiple-listing with UMMC include:
- Must be on the primary liver wait list at another transplant center
- Must be able to arrive at UMMC in Baltimore, MD within 12 hours of an organ offer
- Transplant surgery is performed at UMMC in Baltimore
- Approximately one week of recovery occurs as an in-patient at UMMC
- Must secure lodging in Baltimore for one week AFTER discharge to ensure patient can attend follow-up appointments with team before being released for follow-up in hometown
Thomas woke up from his transplant feeling like a new man. After a week in the hospital and a week at a nearby hotel in Baltimore, Thomas was allowed to return to Quincy, MA. It was important that Thomas be connected to a team at home that could continue to follow his recovery, so UMMC connected him to the hepatology team at MGH in Boston where he can receive long-term follow-up care within a short drive.
The next time Thomas should have to get on a plane to Baltimore is to see the Red Sox play the Orioles.
Surgeons are available to talk with patients about double or multiple listing via convenient channels, including smart phones or in-person. Call 1-410-328-3444 to schedule a conversation with the team.