The Liver

This website is copyright © Norman Linton.



My son drove me to the hospital, on the way, I was very calm.

When I arrive the hospital, I was put into a private room and they drew some blood from me.  Then I just stayed in the room and waited.

I tried to get some sleep.  A few hours later, a nurse told me they are ready for me.  They put an IV line in my arm and pushed me to the surgery room.

Dr. Alsina met me at the surgery room together with his team.  He explained the surgery to me and told me the liver was from a 19-year-old male.

My operation would be an even tougher than the usual liver transplant operation as the portal and mesenteric veins that came from my liver were blocked. This called for an extra step called a portal-caval transposition. This re-routed the vena cava, which comes from the legs so it could drain the liver.

The surgery was ultimately performed brilliantly by a team of surgeons headed by the remarkable Dr. Alsina.  He is not only a skilled surgeon but also a kind and caring man.  I knew I am going to be fine after the surgery.

Before they count to 10, I was already sleep.

Another few hours later, surgery finished.  Dr. Alsina told my fiancee everything went well.

I had read up on the surgery, believe it or not, my wife found a YouTube video explaining how liver transplant surgery is performed.

I knew that when I woke up my hands would be tied to the sides of the bed. Also there would be a breathing tube down my throat, preventing me from making any sound, a tube up my nose and down into my stomach as well as a urine catheter and two abdominal drains. Plus of course the usual IV drips, blood pressure cuff, heart monitors and thing stuck on my finger to measure my blood oxygen.

I also had a line into a major vein in my groin, a central line in my neck and a PICC line threaded through my arm into a vein and it went to just over my heart.

Of everything I feared the breathing tube most.

I warned my wife how I would be affected by it and could she please ensure it was removed as soon as I was conscious.

She was, of course the first one to see me when I woke up. My children came the next day.

The breathing tube was removed. The other lines were also removed slowly over the next 10 days in hospital. Each one gone brought relief and the knowledge I was getting better. Although when my catheter was removed it was so painful I made a sound like Donald Duck!

My wife stayed with me constantly, day and night. She slept on a chair in the ICU and on a sofa in my room. She only left for a couple of hours every day to go home for a shower and get something to eat.

My son relieved her for one night and my son-in-law for another night. My daughter also visited almost every day.

I was in some considerable pain and had been given a button to press to self-administer an IV pain killer.

But I also knew that using it would put my bowels to sleep, so I did not use it. To the astonishment and annoyance of my doctors. I recommend you do the same if you can.

I also started to walk as soon as I could. I used a walker at first but always with someone, usually my wife pushing my IV pole along side.

I was gradually moved from IV feeding, to a clear liquid to full liquid and finally to a regular diet.

Ten days after surgery, I was discharged.  We had bought a thick cushion for the car seat so the drive home was not too painful.

I was overjoyed to be going home.  Home. Sweet. Home.

My Liver Transplant


It was late Sunday night maybe 1 am. on October 11, 2009 that my pager went off. I called back to connect to the LifeLink coordinator. "We think we have a liver for you. Can you please come right away?"

They had already tried my home number, not working as my computer is off, and my cell phone, poor reception in my condo.

That silly little pager literally saved my life. So here’s another tip. Always make sure you can be contacted 24-7 if your life depends on one phone call.