Julie Mallindine’s life has been a health rollercoaster for the past three months. In May, for an unknown reason, her liver began to fail. Her gastroenterologist in Lubbock noticed her liver looked abnormal and did a biopsy out of caution. Once the results came back, he immediately suggested she call Dr. Jeffrey Weinstein at The Liver Institute at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. Julie and her husband Bill then flew to Dallas to see Dr. Weinstein, who began treating her.
In early July, she was admitted to the hospital, then discharged, then readmitted on Friday, July 24th and listed at Methodist Dallas for a liver transplant. 48 hours later, that liver arrived and she was prepped for surgery. She didn’t know Dr. Alejandro Mejia, a transplant surgeon with The Liver Institute at Methodist Dallas, had already performed two transplants within the previous 24 hours. The national average wait time for liver transplants is 12 months, but at Methodist Dallas, it is half that long. Dr. Mejia had no idea the stars would align and organs would be available for three patients in need.
The first was a dual kidney-liver transplant performed Saturday evening lasting nearly six hours, followed by a liver transplant, then Julie Mallindine’s transplant. In total, Dr. Mejia and his team completed all three transplants in a little more than 28 hours. Dr. Mejia, who was assisted by his colleague Dr. Carlos Fasola, said it’s all about timing: as soon as a healthy organ becomes available, they notify the patient and nurses prep the patient for surgery.
At any time, there are around 150 patients at Methodist Dallas waiting for a liver transplant. Doctors here perform about 60 per year. Many patients have conditions ranging from Hepatitis B and C to cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure. In Julie Mallindine’s case, her diagnosis is still unknown. She was a healthy mother of four teenagers until May. She says she may never know why her liver failed, but she is sure about the talents of Dr. Mejia and The Liver Institute’s clinical team.
“I just thank Dr. Mejia. He gave me my life back. Our life, actually.”
Watch Julie and Dr. Mejia talk about their transplants in this story done by WFAA’s Lauren Zakalik.
Calvert Collins-Bratton spent ten years on TV as a broadcast journalist in Columbia, Missouri, Omaha, Las Vegas, and Dallas-Fort Worth. She recently joined Methodist Health System as the Public Relations Manager. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri and enjoys traveling, walking, watching football (especially her Mizzou Tigers) and spending time with her husband and toddler daughter, Vivienne.