Patient Stories

After several weeks of abdominal pain last summer, I visited my primary care physician. He ran a few tests, suspecting that my pain may have been related to previous issues, and I went home. By the time I went back two weeks later, I had developed some back pain. He promptly focused on the pancreas since it was located between the stomach and the spine where my pain was concentrated. He ordered a CT scan which showed "something" on the pancreas. Two MRI's later, my doctor, together with a gastroenterologist, showed us a mass at the head of the pancreas. Knowing that pancreatic cancer is a killer, I was overcome with panic.
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In an effort to increase the number of organ donors in New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed "Lauren's Law" on October 4, 2012. This would not have been possible, however without one of the youngest advocates for organ donation and the namesake of the law: twelve-year-old Lauren Shields.
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It all started with my yearly routine visit to my OB/GYN in May of 2012. After my check-up, which was just fine, my doctor came back into the room and mentioned that there was a microscopic trace of blood in my urine. I then visited a urologist, who performed tests that found a 12 cm mass in my abdominal wall.
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Due to a variety of risk factors, very few hospitals perform heart transplantations on HIV positive patients. However, when Mark Sanders needed a new heart, the team at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center performed his surgery, and Mark is once again healthy and active.
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Karla's story began in April 2002, when she began experiencing severe backaches that continued to worsen. After learning on June 5, 2002 that she had cancer, she arranged an appointment at Columbia University Medical Center with Dr. John Chabot, Director of the Pancreas Center. Dr. Chabot felt that her only option was the Whipple surgery. After a successful surgery she was informed she had 4/5 lymph node involvement and thus needed to undergo both radiation and chemotherapy. Karla was prescribed Gemzar and Taxotere. Since then, none of her scans or blood work has shown any visible signs of active disease.
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Adam Bruzzese was able to donate a portion of his liver to son Charlie, born with liver disease, thanks to the laparoscopic donor procedure offered at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia.
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Nell Pritchard was only 21 when she suffered severe respiratory failure and needed a double lung transplant. Thanks to the Adult ECMO Program at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, Nell survived and is now healthy and active.
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By Susanne Mullman — In July 2009, I was a liver donor to my 21 year old daughter, Jen, whose liver failed due to autoimmune hepatitis. I first wrote about the experience in December 2009. Though I accurately captured the emotion and the gratitude I felt at the time, I glossed over many aspects of the journey. Our lives had not yet gotten back to normal, and although Jen would return to school in a few weeks, part of me was still holding my breath, overwhelmed by all we had been through and a little fearful of the future. Now, with the passage of time and watching Jen resume her life in continued good health, it is easier to write the story.
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Anna Johnson-Chase was 63 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her surgeon, Dr. Sheldon Feldman, decided to use a new therapy called intraoperative radiofrequency ablation to increase the operation's effectiveness and limit side effects.
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