Taiwan Medical Tourism has just won the heart of its first American liver transplant patient in May. Taiwan started promoting its medical tourism programs in 2008. Eileen Dreizin has become the first American Medical Traveler who came to Taiwan for the Living Donor Liver Transplantation (LDLT) surgery. She is a fifty-five year old American artist who was infected with hepatitis C virus and suffered severe cirrhosis complications. She needs liver transplantation to survive from the disease. Eileen’s 31 years old daughter was her liver donor.
Liver transplantation is the only treatment that restores normal liver function for end-stage cirrhosis patients. However, it is also an extremely expensive and sophisticate procedure that would cost about $300,000 dollars in the states. Eileen and her husband searched through all resources and channels to ease their financial burden.
Overseas medical services provided them an alternative option. Eileen’s husband revealed that they once considered Thailand, India, China and other countries that provide the service. However, they have found that both the treatment successful rate and survival rate of the countries are not as satisfactory. They continued surfing on the internet for the latest features and finally the outstanding performance of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital-Kaohsiung Medical Center, Taiwan in the liver transplantation field attracted their attentions. The hospital has achieved almost 100% successful rate and has a better liver transplantation survival rate than the providers in European countries, the states and Japan. They were even more excited to get a quote of about $60,000 dollars from the hospital. That is only 1/5 of the costs they would get from the hospitals in the states. The difference is not only a tremendous saving for them but also made the traveling possible.
Eileen was first diagnosed hepatitis C virus-related liver cirrhosis in California in September, 2005 when she went to see the doctors for her lower limb edema and ascites. She received Beta-blocker treatments but her condition continued to progress. She had developed end-stage cirrhosis with ascites, jaundice, coagulopathy, pleural effusion and coma in 2008. By the time Eileen contacted Dr. Chao-Long Chen, the Superintendent of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital-Kaohsiung Medical Center, Taiwan, who is also the director of the liver transplantation team she not only had end-stage cirrhosis but also had her portal vein, the most important blood vessel of liver, completely blocked. Her conditions made the transplantation even more dangerous.
Luckily, an innovative technique, “three vessel vena saphena reconstruction,” developed by Liver Transplant Center of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital-Kaohsiung Medical Center, Taiwan two years ago provides the solution for her condition. Dr. Chao-Long Chen carefully evaluated Eileen’s conditions and chose to employ three veins, vena ovarica, vena mesenterica inferior and one of the vena saphena for the use of the technique to reconstruct her damaged portal vein. The personalized designed method reduced much incisions of the other side of the thigh.
Eileen and her husband flew 10 hours from California to Taiwan on March 30th. Her surgery was on April 15th. Eileen’s daughter was her donor. She came to Taiwan separately. She worked as a restaurant manager and took a three week vocation for the surgery. She donated 666 grams of her right lobe liver which is about 67% of her liver to her mother. There was only 50 cc of bleeding during the procedure. She was discharged seven days after and departed for the states on May 1st.
Eileen had no complications, nor graft rejections or infections after the surgery. She recovered well and was discharged on May 12th. She flew back to California on May 25th. Eileen enjoyed her stay and the hospitality in Taiwan. She appreciated very much for the efforts of the transplant term in saving her life.