Woman has rare double transplant

July 17, 2008 4:13:27 PM PDT
A 48-year-old Mount Vernon resident became only the third person in New York state to undergo a rare simultaneous heart and liver transplant last week.Westchester Medical Center on Thursday announced the successful combined transplant, which happened on July 2. The unusual procedure was the first combination heart/liver transplant ever performed the Hudson Valley region.

The patient, Shelly Guinyard, has been unable to hear since birth and communicates through sign language. She suffered a massive heart attack in 2004, which led to a triple bypass and eventually pacemaker implantation.

Unfortunately, over time, doctors say the weakened condition of her heart also caused irreversible damage to her liver. In March of this year, with both organs failing, Shelly was admitted to the Medical Center, where she has remained as she waited for her transplants.

The liver performs a multitude of essential functions, including metabolizing the food we eat as well as protecting the body from the damaging effects of numerous toxic compounds that we are exposed to on a daily basis. Several times each day, our entire blood supply passes through the liver and at any given time, about a pint of blood is in the liver.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing and the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network, this is only the 62nd combined heart-liver transplant performed in the United States.