Organs removed and replaced in breakthrough op

DOCTOR Tomoaki Kato had to remove a lot more than a cancerous tumour during an unprecedented operation on a 63-year-old Florida woman.

To get to the tumour, deep in Brooke Zepp’s abdomen, which threatened to kill her within months, the transplant specialist said he first had to remove her stomach, pancreas, spleen, liver and intestines.

The organs were chilled outside Zepp’s body during a 15-hour operation at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Centre on March 4. They were re-implanted after the tumour — two inches in diameter and wrapped around Zepp’s aorta and the base of two other arteries — was removed.

Kato said never before were six organs removed from a patient’s abdomen to allow doctors to go after a malignant growth previously inoperable.

“We’ve done pieces of this surgery many times but not the whole thing like this,” said Kato.

Zepp was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a rare cancer. But Kato said the surgery ultimately could benefit people with more common diseases.

Zepp, who is expected to be discharged this week, had many blood vessels replaced with artificial ones made of Gore-Tex.

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