Multiple transplants around the world have saved a man who was given just six months alive after being diagnosed with rare cancer.
Andy Voge, 33, had pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP), which usually starts as a ‘small tumor’ in the human appendix before it spreads to other organs, reports the NHS.
But after a year of 17 hours of surgery to save his life, he is back to full life.
Andy Voge told NBC News that his first sign of the disease was a lump in his stomach: “I never thought of anything about it … He called it my stomach button that looked funny.”
However, he still decides he should have been examined by a doctor, who also dismissed the symptom, telling Voge it was an umbilical hernia, as reported by Today.
“We don’t have to do anything about it,” the doctor recalled.
Interestingly, further blood tests revealed an enzyme deficiency, which was the first indication that something was wrong.
“So we did an ultrasound the next day, and they got lumps in my liver,” Voge said.
His cancer diagnosis was later confirmed by a CT scan, which left Voge and his wife in a state of shock.
“A few days before I went running, we had a good meal. Everything was normal, ”said Voge.
Drs. Anil Vaidya, a Cleveland Clinic surgeon and Voges physician, explained to NBC News that rare cancers are difficult to detect because they often go undetected.
Patients with this condition may also experience abdominal pain and swelling as symptoms.
Voge underwent surgery to remove the cancer, and although it was successful at first, he soon became seriously ill.
“I was vomiting every day. I could not keep water down. I was malnourished and dehydrated,” he said of what the cancer may be causing blockage in his intestines.
He was then given ‘sad’ news that he would not undergo surgery again and was placed in a feeding tube.
“I thought it was over,” said his wife Rachel, adding: “They probably think I have six months left.”
It was then that Dr. Vaidya stepped in and suggested another way to save his life: a transplant to replace his dead limbs with healthy ones, which had never been used to treat PMP.
“It’s a very major procedure. … The whole concept is pretty daunting,” Voge said, but after a few days he concluded that he had nothing to lose.
Incredibly, luck was on Voge’s side and his liver began to shut down, he was matched with a donor who was able to give him the seven new organs he needed.
While it’s not known if the organs will continue to work for Voge indefinitely, he has been given a second chance at life, and can now eat again and even completed a 30-mile bike ride.
He is hoping his story will remind others in similar positions that there is hope.
“There’s always hope in different pockets of our lives. And never give up that hope,” Dr Vaidya said.
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