When doctors in Mexico City diagnosed Mauricio Perez-Olegaray with liver cirrhosis, he thought the condition was the result of earlier alcohol consumption and a genetic predisposition. But at Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn., doctors discovered instead the silent progress of hepatitis C.
For the next six years, a team of Mayo Clinic specialists cared for Perez, managing his symptoms with medication while monitoring his condition closely for any sign of the liver cancer that can be caused by the virus.
When tumors were detected in the liver, Perez's name was added to the liver transplant waiting list while doctors used chemoembolization to shrink the tumors and prevent them spreading outside the liver.
A donor organ became available nearly fourth months later, and Perez was admitted to the hospital feeling anxious, but "very glad and very grateful."
After the transplant, Perez and his wife, Araceli Olguin, relied on the people and the caring environment of the Gift of Life Transplant House for help during his recovery. The independent nonprofit offers patient housing close to Mayo Clinic.
"It's a place where there is support, physical and psychological, because you are interacting with others with similar experiences," says Perez. "If you went to a hotel or apartment, you would feel isolated."
Perez was bolstered by the support and the coordinated care of his medical team. After two months he was able to return to Mexico while his Mayo Clinic team continued to oversee his recovery, working with Perez and his local doctors.
Today, Perez is grateful for a "normal life" with his family that includes exercise, work and travel. And he credits Mayo Clinic with his return to health. "They have vast experience," he says, "and the service is without equal. I don't think there is any place like this anywhere in the world."Posted by Margaret Shepard