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Woman’s Liver Removed In Rare, Life-Saving Surgery

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Aired 1/5/12

In a first for California, a young San Diego mother underwent life-saving surgery in which her liver was removed entirely.

Evening Edition

Above: San Diegan Clerisa Kiersey is the first in California to undergo a radical life-saving surgery in which her liver was completely removed, reconstructed and reimplanted.

A San Diego military wife, the mother of three, is the first in California to undergo a radical life saving surgery. Her liver was completely removed, reconstructed, and then replaced.

Clerisa Kiersey was the first person in California to undergo a radical liver surgery, in which her entire liver was removed, reconstructed and then replaced.
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Above: Clerisa Kiersey was the first person in California to undergo a radical liver surgery, in which her entire liver was removed, reconstructed and then replaced.

An MRI scan of Clerisa Kiersey, who underwent a radical liver surgery, and was the first to undergo the procedure in California.
Enlarge this image

Above: An MRI scan of Clerisa Kiersey, who underwent a radical liver surgery, and was the first to undergo the procedure in California.

Clerisa Kiersey appeared perfectly healthy as she prepared to leave her room at UCSD Medical Center today. It was hard to imagine that the 27 year old is one of just a handful of people in the world to survive a rare and risky surgery.

The operation removed a large cancerous liver tumor, one Keirsey (pronounced Keer-see) said she didn’t know she had until just six weeks ago.

“For the past couple of weeks I felt pain. I thought it was my Caesarean scar, or maybe an infection," she said. "I went to the doctor and they saw something on my liver -- they found a very large mass.”

Her surgeon, Dr. Alan Hemming of UCSD Medical Center, explained how the surgery was done.

“Pretty much the only way to deal with this was to take the tumor out by removing her liver completely from her body," Hemming said. "We cold-preserved it in a solution like we would for transplant patients. Then after very carefully taking the tumor out, and reconstructing the vessels involved, we transplanted the liver back into her.”

The operation took 8 hours. That’s double the time of a traditional liver-transplant surgery and it carries a 20-percent risk of death. But, just seven days later, Keirsey walked out of the hospital.

“I’m recovering very well for such an operation; I’m doing very well," she said.

Keirsey returned home yesterday. Her three children happily greeted her at home on Camp Pendleton, where her husband is stationed.

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