University of Pennsylvania Health System

Liver Transplant Update | Penn Medicine

Friday, November 21, 2014

Penn Transplant House Wish List

Being far from home when you need medical care is never easy. When that happens during the holidays, it can be even more challenging. If you’d like to help us offer additional hospitality to the guests at the Clyde F. Barker Transplant House, we’re making it simple. Donations will be accepted on Monday, December 8th at the Penn Transplant Institute’s 2014 Patient Holiday Party. Just look for the Penn Transplant House table and add your donation to the collection.

“These items will help us to offer additional hospitality and care to our guests,” said Transplant House manager, Kirsten King. “Donations like this really help us transform the space from a house to a home, and that’s particularly important during the holidays.”

If you have any questions about the holiday wish list, Kirsten can be reached at 215.662.4540 or Donations can also be delivered directly to the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House at 3940 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

The Transplant House Wish List

Here’s a list of items that would be helpful for patients whose transplant journey takes them hundreds of miles from home:
  • Bathroom scales (12—one per guest room)
  • Bellman’s luggage cart
  • Magazine and newspaper subscriptions (Lifetime, Newsweek, National Geographic, Martha Stewart, etc.)
  • Playstation 3 with four controllers and games
  • Quilts (twin or queen-size beds, in neutral, solid color or paisley print) 
    • Pottery Barn: Kennedy Patchwork Quilt & Shams 
    • Pottery Barn: Malin Patchwork Quilt & Shams 
    • Pottery Barn: Claire Patchwork Quilt & Shams 
    • Pottery Barn: Pick-Stitch Quilt and Shams (porcelain blue and flagstone) 
  • Aluminum foil—heavy duty, large rolls 
  • Non-stick baking sheets—Wilton or Calphalon
  • Cake/cupcake storage containers—Rubbermaid 
  • Coffee mugs—Pier 1 Imports Metallic Geo Mug Set
  • Dish racks (3)—Polder Model KTH-615, four-piece advantage dish rack system 
  • Disposable coffee cups with lids—Dixie or Solo brands 
  • KitchenAid black box graters with storage (3)
  • Knife sharpener—Chef’s Choice Hybrid 250 Diamond Hone 
  • Madesmart expandable cutlery storage 
  • Pyrex Storage Plus 20-piece container set with color lids 
  • Liquid measuring cups 
  • Heavy-duty Saran Wrap
  • Serving dishes (large bowls and platters)—Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, etc (neutral/ earth tones, and various sizes) 
  • Toaster—Frigidaire Widemouth Professional, two or four-slot
  • Tongs, basting brush, cooking thermometer, etc.
  • Wire cooling racks 
  • Zip-lock bags
  • Nightlights for guest room bathrooms (12)—Forever Glo LED Nite Lite 
  • Hampers (12)—collapsible, cotton, 12”x 12”x 30”
Thank you for including the Transplant House in your holiday gift giving. We look forward to seeing you on December 8.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

You're Invited to the Transplant Patient Holiday Party!

Before your calendars start filling up with holiday celebrations, we wanted to make sure that you pencil in the 2014 Penn Transplant Institute’s patient holiday party. 

The holiday party will take place on Monday, December 8 from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Smilow Center for Translational Research, 3400 Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Parking will be available in the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine.

We hope your schedules will allow you to join us for a lovely evening of fun, food and celebration. For those of you who haven’t yet joined us for a holiday party, one unique aspect of it is the guest list. In addition to pre- and post-liver transplant patients, our guest list includes patients who are connected to Penn through heart, lung, kidney and pancreas transplantation – making the evening a great opportunity to see friends you’ve made along your transplant journey and even make some new ones. Plus, you never know who else will turn up – there may even be some cameo appearances from Penn Liver Transplant team members!

This year we’re adding a photo booth to the festivities, so if you’d like a snapshot souvenir come prepared for the camera. The photo booth candid shots will be used on the Penn Transplant Institute’s Facebook page. Be sure to find us on Facebook before the party, so you can share your snapshot with your friends and family.

In addition to the festivities and delicious complimentary food, there will be an opportunity to share some holiday cheer with the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House. If you’d like to drop off a donation by check, look for the Transplant House table where a team member will be to accept your donation. Checks can be made payable to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. Please put "Transplant House" on the memo line. Stay tuned for more details next week on how you can help the Transplant House this holiday season.

To attend the patient holiday party, kindly R.S.V.P. by November 28 by calling 1-800-789-PENN (7366). For more information about the party, please contact Denise DuPont, manager of Outreach and Communications, at 215-873-7983 or

We look forward to seeing you on December 8!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Yes! Beat Liver Tumors Symposium

At Penn, we understand that there are many challenges to navigate when a liver tumor has been identified. To help you and your loved ones learn about the options and resources that are available to support you, a special education session will be offered in Philadelphia on Friday, October 24, 2014 at the Hilton Hotel on City Line Avenue.

The free session includes helpful information on a variety of treatment options and encouraging presentations from people who have received a cancer diagnosis, completed successful treatment and are now living full and active lives.

In addition to the many Penn Medicine physicians and nurses who will be sharing their expertise and knowledge, Penn transplant hepatologist, Maarouf Hoteit, MD, will discuss “Liver Transplantation for Hepatocellular Carcinoma.”

Who Should Attend?

This session can be helpful for those newly diagnosed, currently in treatment or who are long-term survivors -- as well as family members and caregivers of those affected by liver tumors. Attendees will receive the latest information about research, treatment advances, clinical trials and survivorship issues.

When and Where

Event: Say Yes to Hope: Beat Liver Tumors
Date: Friday, October 24, 2014
Time:  8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Location: Hilton Hotel, 4200 City Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

Parking for this event provided free of charge.

The Agenda

8:30 a.m.: Registration and Continental Breakfast
9:00 a.m.: Welcome Survivor Speaker, Suzanne Lindley
9:10 a.m.: Physician and NP Panel Presentations
10:15 a.m.: Patient Perspectives
10:40 a.m.: Q & A


Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center health professionals will highlight news in diagnosis and disease management. The presenters and panelists include:

Deepak Sudheendra, MD
Interventional Radiologist, Program Emcee

Nevena Damjanov, MD
Medical Oncologist
Personalized Medicine: Targeting the Tumor

Robert Roses, MD
Surgical Oncologist
Going for Cure: The role of Surgery for Primary & Metastatic Liver Tumors

Maarouf Hoteit, MD
Liver Transplantation for Hepatocellular Xarcinoma

Edgar Ben-Josef, MD
Radiation Oncologist
Radiotherapy for Liver Cancer

Deepak Sudheendra, MD
Interventional Radiologist
Interventional Oncology: Tumor-directed Treatments Without Incisions

Elizabeth Prechtel Dunphy, CRNP, MSN, AOCN
Nurse Practitioner, Medical Oncology

Diana Van Houten, CRNP
Nurse Practitioner, Interventional Radiology

The Say Yes to Hope: Beat Liver Tumors seminar is supported through a charitable contribution from Sirtex Medical, Ltd.

To register or for more information, visit or call 877.937.7478.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Meet the Team: Linda Wood, RN, BSN

Penn live liver donor coordinator, Linda Wood, RN, BSN, has provided care to patients as a registered nurse for more than 20 years. She took some time to share with us a bit about how she got started in transplantation and how she feels about her current role serving people who are interested in being evaluated as live liver donors. Here’s a snapshot of what inspires Linda in her work with Penn live donors and their families.

How long have you been providing care for live donors?

I have specialized in living donation for 12 years. I find it so rewarding, and I'm in constant awe of these special people who step forward to give such a special gift to a loved one or friend.

What first interested you in transplant?

It’s hard to believe that I have been a nurse for 23 years – I can’t believe I have done anything for that long! My background was
always surgical intensive care, and I worked in a transplant intensive care unit for a few years.

Transplant patients proved to be a very special group of patients, and I felt like I had an opportunity to witness the miracle of medicine every day. I was later offered a position as a transplant coordinator, which enabled me to see another side of the transplant world. I knew then I had found home.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

There are a lot of rewarding aspects to this position. Two things come to mind. The first is to hear from a donor or receive a picture of a donor and their recipient – after the surgery – after recovery. It’s great to see the joy in their eyes and see how well they both look. The thought that comes up next is how rewarding it is to see a donor the morning after surgery – and hear them say, “I did it..! I can’t believe I did it!”

It’s exciting because it is a life renewed for the recipient, and the donor made that happen. To feel that I helped facilitate that and had a part of that, in some small way, makes this work very special.

What’s the most interesting part of providing care to people interested in live liver donation?

Helping to bring their desire, their hope, into a reality. We are helping people to help other people. Educating them, guiding them, protecting them in this process is our paramount goal. I love what I do.

Find out more about organ transplant programs and services at Penn.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Penn Liver Transplant Support Group

The liver transplantation process can present unique challenges throughout each phase of transplantation. Whether you're considering liver transplant, waiting for a liver to become available or continuing with life post-transplant, building a community of support is an important and ongoing process.

One resource that can help you connect with people who are having similar experiences is the Penn Liver Transplant Support Group. This group of people and caregivers meets twice a month and provides an opportunity to discuss all kinds of issues and offer suggestions to others based on what you have learned.

According to liver transplant social worker, Chrystal Liebold, "This group is invaluable for both pre- and post-transplant patients. For those waiting for transplant, being able to hear the stories of those who have been through the process helps get answers to their questions and gives them a sense of community, reminding them that they are not alone."

Liebold also said that it's beneficial for those who have already gone through the process: "Being able to share stories allows post-transplant patients a chance to give back. So there's really something for everyone at a support group."

The next group will meet on Tuesday, October 7 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., at the 2 West Conference Room in the Penn Transplant Institute, which is located at the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine: 3400 Civic Center Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall Means Getting Ready for Flu Season

It's that time of year again... Time for flu vaccines! The Penn Liver Transplant team wants to remind everyone to get their flu shots, especially transplant recipients, their loved ones and their caregivers. Moreover, if you are less than six months post-transplant, please contact your transplant coordinator, so they can advise you whether to be vaccinated now or wait until you are farther out to increase the protection you receive from the vaccine.

Transplant recipients are advised to take only the “inactivated influenza vaccine” that contains killed virus and is given by injection into the muscle or skin. Nasally inhaled (live, attenuated) vaccines are not recommended for people whose immune systems are compromised or weakened. It is best if your family members do not receive the nasal vaccine either, so please ask them to stick with the flu shot. If they do receive the nasal vaccine, we recommend that you avoid contact with them for one week.

This year’s vaccine covers influenza, including H1N1, so only one injection is necessary. While there is a high-dose vaccine available and it has been tested in individuals 65 years of age and older, it has not been proven to be more effective for transplant patients. Although there is no known harm in getting it, it's not necessary.

The “flu” is caused by the influenza virus. Typically spread from person to person, the virus is carried in respiratory droplets created with coughing and sneezing. However, you can unwittingly expose yourself by simply touching a surface that has been contaminated by a droplet and then touching your own mouth, nose or eye. So, wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands… and, as always, try to avoid sick people.

It's important to distinguish between cold symptoms and flu symptoms. While both are respiratory illnesses, they are treated differently. Here's a chart that may help determine which “bug” you have:

Flu symptoms 

  • Slow onset of illness (over a day) 
  • Fever over 100.5F 
  • Extreme fatigue 
  • Dry cough 
  • Terrible headache 
  • Achy muscles 
  • Chills 

Cold Symptoms

  • Slow onset of illness (over a day) 
  • Low or no fever 
  • Mild fatigue 
  • Productive cough and runny or stuffy nose 
  • No headache 
  • No muscle aches 
  • No chills 
If you suspect that you may have the flu, please call your transplant nurse coordinator before coming to the Penn Transplant Institute. To minimize the potential spread of the virus, you may be asked to wear a mask and to sit separately from other patients waiting for appointments or even advised not to come to the hospital at all.

Learn more at the Center for Disease Control or contact the Penn Liver Transplant team

Thursday, August 28, 2014

To Swim or Not to Swim? Safe Swimming Tips for Liver Transplant Recipients

It might be Labor Day Weekend, but there's still several weeks of nice weather ahead of us. If swimming is on your list of warm weather activities, take a minute to check out this interview with Emily Blumberg, MD, a national expert in transplant infectious disease and a member of the infectious disease team here at Penn. We asked Dr. Blumberg to explain the risks involved in swimming and her suggestions for avoiding infections while enjoying the activity. Here are her recommendations.

Why is it important for liver transplant recipients to learn about safe swimming?

We know that significant infections can result from water exposure, so it’s critical for liver transplant recipients to understand:
  • where it is safe to swim;
  • where it is not safe to swim; and
  • when it is not safe to swim.

Where is it safe for liver transplant recipients to swim?

It’s safe for liver transplant patients to swim in chlorinated pools. In most cases, the ocean is also okay, but patients should avoid swimming in the Chesapeake because the presence of some dangerous bacteria has been found there in recent years.

If liver transplant patients experience any kind of abrasion while in the ocean, the abrasion should be thoroughly cleaned with soap and an uncontaminated water source -- not the water they are swimming in -- to minimize the risk of infection.

Where is it unsafe for liver transplant recipients to go swimming?

Fresh-water swimming represents a high risk for infection. So it’s not safe for liver transplant recipients to swim in fresh water of any kind, which includes ponds, lakes, creeks, rivers and streams. Since it’s often part of vacation recreation, it’s probably helpful to mention that, because of several infection risks, hot tubs should also be avoided.

When is it unsafe for liver transplant recipients to go swimming?

If a liver transplant recipient has an open wound of any kind, it is not safe to swim at all. In addition, swimming should be avoided if a patient is being treated for rejection.

Remember, if you have questions about safe swimming, before you go, contact your transplant coordinator to verify that swimming is safe option for you.