Frances Bussey (pictured center) enjoys renewed energy and life with her husband and granddaughter in east Texas.
People travel far and wide for great medical care; there’s even a new term called ‘medical tourism’ where cities and healthcare systems spend money to bring patients there. That was never the intention of The Liver Institute at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. It opened nine satellite clinics across Texas to meet the needs of patients in those communities because their access to specialized care was so limited. Beyond those city limits, transplant patients have traveled from Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Puerto Rico for the top-notch care. They say ‘good news travels fast’ and the staff at The Liver Institute can attest to just that. The Liver Institute at Methodist Dallas Medical Center performs more than 50 liver transplants per year, and continues to have the best outcomes in the Dallas area. According to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, patients transplanted at Methodist Dallas are more likely to survive and thrive a year after their liver transplants than any other hospital in Dallas.
Frances Bussey jokes her liver is younger than she is. The 67-year-old from Longview says she feels decades younger than her age and credits her new organ. Before then, a healthy future looked improbable for the wife, mother, and grandmother. She lives
Frances was diagnosed with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) in her late 30s, and by 2013, it had taken over her digestive system. PBC is a chronic disease that slowly destroys the medium-size bile ducts within the liver and harmful substances can build up and sometimes lead to irreversible scarring of liver tissue. She couldn’t walk or function without full-time care and spent the entire year homebound until her doctors in East Texas referred her to The Liver Institute.
Convenient, compassionate care
Parvez Mantry, MD, hepatologist on the medical staff at The Liver Institute, evaluated Frances.
“Dr. Mantry told me, ‘You will not get better unless you have a transplant,’” Frances says. Unfortunately, she wasn’t sick enough to qualify for a transplant at that time, so she had to get worse before she got better.
Dr. Mantry began seeing Frances in both his Dallas office and his clinic in Tyler, which he opened in 2008. She lives 128 miles from Methodist Dallas, but was willing to drive as far as needed for the expert care.
“We are the only liver transplant program with a substantive and regular presence in the East Texas area,” Dr. Mantry says. “We are able to provide an expert level of service at these patients’ doorstep without them having to drive hours to Dallas, for which they are very grateful.”
A turn for the worse
A new year showed new signs of life for Frances, but it was short-lived. So in January 2015, she was admitted to Methodist Dallas three times for various issues related to her cirrhosis.
“Once I was told I only had 10 percent of my liver left,” Frances says.
Nine months later, she got up to use the restroom in the middle of the night, but tripped and fell breaking her hip. An ambulance took her to a local hospital; then her husband drove her back to Methodist Dallas. That was Sept. 8, 2015.
“Bringing Frances to Methodist for a higher level of care when she had the fracture allowed us to see her liver was sick enough for a transplant,” Dr. Mantry says. “We optimized her medical condition to better receive a new liver when one would be available. Fortunately, our strategy worked.”
Nine days later, her new liver arrived. Stephen S. Cheng, MD, FACS, transplant surgeon on the medical staff at The Liver Institute and medical director of transplant informatics, performed the surgery.
“I love The Liver Institute,” Frances says. “I love the people, I love the nurses, I love the doctors. I told everybody, ‘I think God led me here, and I’m going to trust God and these doctors that they’re going to do the best for me.’ And they did.”
Life with a new liver
Frances spent 51 days in the hospital and rehabilitation before returning home to Longview for good. A retired physical therapy office manager, Frances says she hasn’t felt this good in years, but she still sees Dr. Mantry for monthly checkups at the Tyler clinic.
“I can’t believe how many things corrected in my body — my stomach, my coordination, my mental and emotional strength — and the itching all over my body disappeared,” she says.
She credits the whole team at Methodist Dallas for giving her renewed energy and life.
“I told Dr. Mantry and Dr. Cheng, ‘I want you to know the best thing that ever happened to me was when my doctor sent me to The Liver Institute.”
***According to the Scientific Registry for Transplant
Calvert Collins-Bratton spent ten years on TV as a broadcast journalist in Columbia, Missouri, Omaha, Las Vegas, and Dallas-Fort Worth. She joined Methodist Health System as the Public Relations Manager in July 2015. 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, and soon-to-arrive twin daughters.