President Chris opened our meeting at Guido’s Restaurant at
12:30 with a tinkling bell sound, definitely NOT our ship’s bell, but ‘twas
pleasant enough for the small room. Welcoming us to the W & F WVRC,
he called upon PP Ron Lyster, JD to state the Four Way Test, which he
proceeded to do clearly and accurately, despite his education.
Next, PP Gordon Fell was called to lead us in the Flag Pledge and
did so admirably. Sherod Hansen was asked for the Thought for the Day
and provided one from Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan. I’m afraid I
didn’t catch the gist of it, but it sounded wise. PP Admiral Edwin Gauld
was happy to stand and lead us in “Take me Out to the Ball Game” for
all the Dodgers fans. PP Nancy McCready informed us that Carmella
Sears was our guest for the meeting.
President Chris told us an amusing story about a horse and surrey
and an emergency brake which was his best effort for this Rotary year. He
also let us know how planning is coming on the Anti-Sex Trafficking Program.
VP Ben Fisher informed us of some interesting meetings we’ll experience
soon, including the Reagan Library, Nixon Library, and the Academy Award
John O’Keefe, who retired as Program Chair and then re-upped,
announced that today’s speaker is a long-time close friend of his, a Bruin,
and the head of Liver Transplant Program in the Department of Surgery at
UCLA (which is the Trifecta)! The School of Surgery was created in 1948 and
was where Dr. Ron Busuttil completed his internship and residency. In the
1950’s, the state of research in transplants was transplanting pieces of
The first liver transplant happened at UCLA in ’68 on a mouse (I believe).
In ’72, a transplant was completed on a 14-yr-old patient who died a few
days later. By 1982, 50 liver transplants had been performed on pigs at
UCLA and in 1984, the first successful human transplant was completed and
the patient returned home after only 17 days. By 1984, the survival rate at
33 months had been attained by 70% of liver transplant patients, 80% by
children. 100 patients had transplants the first two years.
Liver transplants are now performed on patients will all types of liver
problems, including cancer. Most transplant patients have obesity and/or
hepatitis problems. UCLA and neighboring programs have now performed
7200 liver transplants. Dr. Ron has done over 2000 transplants himself.
When an adult liver is available, 1/3 is often given to a child and the remaining
2/3 to an adult, while some adult livers are large enough for two adults.
If a transplant is not successful, a re-transplant may be available,
sometimes up to 4 attempts. UCLA has trained 77 US fellows in transplants
and 300 international fellows. 43 of these fellows now run transplant programs
elsewhere. It seems that UCLA has done a heroic job of increasing the
availability of transplants, but Dr. Ron says the patients are the heroes since
they typically spend a month in pain in the hospital. In 2008, the first liver and
heart transplant was successfully performed and the next year two lungs and
a liver. Still, the availability of matching livers is limited and current research
focusses on finding a cure for liver disease. Alcoholics must be sober for
3-6 months before being eligible for a transplant. Livers that are a match
are usually awarded to the most severely ill patient that is available. Scores
are determined from 5-40, with the highest number the most acute need.
Most donors are friends or relatives and thousands of patients with
severe liver disease are currently waiting in line. UCLA Surgery currently has
a list of 400-500 patients waiting. Rotarians asked dozens of questions today
and Dr. Ron readily had the answers to all of them. Since establishing the
liver transplant program he’s been the Director of the Program for over 10
years and is considered one of the finest transplant surgeons anywhere. His
program at UCLA has completed the most liver transplants anywhere.
We thanked Dr. Ron for his wonderful program and for speaking to us
today. Our club is very fortunate to be located where such a facility exists.
We’ve seldom had a speaker who is so inspirational and informative.