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March 2004 Issue

E. Steve Woodle, MD, chief of the division of transplantation (third from left) received a liver transplant by his own team of surgeons on Oct. 13. Pictured here with Dr. Woodle is Steven Rudich, MD, PhD, Joseph Buell, MD, and Michael Hanaway, MD.
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Chief of Transplant Surgery Becomes Transplant Recipient

Published March 2004

E. Steve Woodle, MD, chief of the Division of Transplantation in the UC Department of Surgery, and transplant surgeon and director of transplantation at The University Hospital, received his own “gift of life.” Dr. Woodle received a liver transplant by his own transplant team of UC surgeons on October 13, 2003, at The University Hospital.  Dr. Woodle is now publicly sharing his personal story.

“I was fortunate to be able to have a liver transplant here at home by leading professionals in the field of liver disease and transplantation, and with some of the very best surgeons in the country,” said Dr. Woodle. “I am extremely blessed to have received this gift of life and will always be indebted to the donor’s family.”

Dr. Woodle has directed the transplant programs at The University Hospital and The Christ Hospital since 1999. The programs include organ transplants of liver, kidney, kidney/pancreas, islet cell and heart at The University Hospital, and kidney at  The Christ Hospital.

Dr. Woodle came to UC in 1999 from the University of Chicago, where he was a transplant surgeon. He was first diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma in the summer of 1999, when a tumor was found during a laparoscopic hernia repair. Two weeks later, he had two-thirds of his liver removed to treat cancer.  Six weeks after the operation, Dr. Woodle moved to Cincinnati to assume his current positions at the UC College of Medicine and The University Hospital.

In July 2003, a CT scan showed two new liver tumors. Dr. Woodle underwent surgery to treat the new tumors, and was immediately placed on the transplant waiting list due to his life-threatening condition. It was also clear that his liver was susceptible to the growth of more tumors and needed to be replaced promptly if he were to have any chance of long-term survival. He was evaluated by The University Hospital’s liver specialist, Frederick Weber, MD; Steve Rudich, MD, PhD, medical director of liver transplant; and Joseph Buell, MD, a transplant cancer surgery specialist.

While the transplant itself went well, a very serious complication followed in the form of a blood clot passing to his lungs. The clot required immediate surgical intervention by a team of vascular surgeons led by John Edwards, MD, chief of vascular surgery, UC Department of Surgery and The University Hospital. Since the transplant, Dr. Woodle is doing very well in his recovery and has returned to work.

The University Hospital recently celebrated its 500th successful liver transplant since initiating the program in 1986 when it was co-founded by J. Wesley Alexander, MD, and the late Israel Penn, MD. The first liver transplant at The University Hospital was performed April 23, 1986. By 2003, The University Hospital liver transplant program was listed as the eighth largest program in the United States.

“By publicly sharing my experience, I hope to increase organ donation awareness,” said Dr. Woodle. “Through Life-Center, the organ procurement organization here in Cincinnati, I hope to get the word out to the public about the importance of organ donation.”

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