Friday, June 29, 2012

An MGH transplant miracle


On Feb. 17 MGH Hotline published an article about patient John Morelli, who surprised his wife with a Valentine’s Day dinner at the MGH while he was awaiting a transplant.

It was a bright, warm spring day in Boston. John Morelli remembers this because – after having been hospitalized in the MGH Cardiac Intensive Care Unit for more than two months – he wanted to spend some time outside. But no more than 10 minutes after Kimberly Parks, DO, of the MGH Heart Center, had given him the go-ahead to enjoy the sunny weather, she came back to his room with even better news. The heart and liver that Morelli had been awaiting for months were available.

“Dr. Parks said, ‘I don’t think you are going outside today – we have a match,’” Morelli recalls. “But it was a really bittersweet day because someone had to pass away for me to have a second chance.”

This marks the second time in the past 20 years that the MGH has performed a heart and liver transplant, also the second operation of its kind ever done in New England. The surgical team included Joren C. Madsen, MD, DPhil, director of the Transplant Center, who performed the heart transplant; James F. Markmann, MD, PhD, chief of the Division of Abdominal Transplantation, who performed the liver transplant; and cardiac surgeon Joshua N. Baker, MD, who implanted a temporary right ventricular assist device.

“MGH is the only institution in New England that has the expertise and the resources necessary to perform these complex procedures and to care for these challenging patients,” says Madsen. “This success and others like it reflect the collaboration and team spirit shared by all members of the MGH Transplant Center. It is why our Transplant Center is one of the best in the world.”

Now happily recuperating in his Braintree home with his wife, Stacey, and their three boys, Morelli is dedicated to giving back to others. He is in the process of creating a nonprofit organization called the Transplant Foundation of New England, which he hopes in the near future will help patients and families awaiting transplants.

“I have a lot of plans,” Morelli laughs, launching into a list that includes family vacations, running, cycling and even triathlons. “It’s a good feeling. I’m getting my energy back. It’s slow – but it feels great. I’m so happy to be home with my wife and kids. It’s a miracle.”

Read more articles from the 6/29/12 Hotline issue.


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