HOUSTON Walt McGuire is waiting on a new lease on life at Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center. But that new lease will come with a risky, first-of-its-kind procedure: a triple transplant.
McGuire s heart is failing, so a heart balloon pump is helping to keep him alive.
But his heart isn t the only problem.
[The doctor] called me on the telephone at work and he said, Mr. McGuire, you have a disease called amyloidosis, McGuire said.
Amyloidosis is a rare disorder where the body forms abnormally shaped proteins that build up, clog and destroy internal organs.
The disease has left McGuire in need not only of a new heart, but also a liver and a kidney.
What s more, all of the organs need to come from the same donor, and it needs to happen soon.
What we can very clearly say is that unless he gets the heart, the liver and the kidney, his life expectancy is probably going to be measured in months, not years, Dr. Horacio Adrogue, a transplant doctor, said. Someone who has systemic amyloid or primary amyloid like he has and has heart failure and does not get treated, usually they live six months.
Right now, Methodist is the only place McGuire can get the treatment he needs.
To my knowledge, this will be the first multi-organ transplant three organs in particular for the type of amyloid that he has, transplant cardiologist Dr. Jerry Estep said.
Only a few other hospitals in the U.S. offer transplants for someone in McGuire s condition. And when they do, it s usually only one transplant a heart, a liver or a kidney not all three at once -- a lengthy and complex procedure.
I think the best long-term option for him is heart, liver and kidney. It would be too risky to just do one organ alone, Estep said.
It s a chance McGuire might not have gotten, if it wasn t for his wife.
After months of other doctors misdiagnosing Walt McGuire s symptoms, his wife, Sherry, developed breast cancer.
She survived, but while she was being treated at MD Anderson, she and Walt asked if someone could look at his condition, too.
The MD Anderson doctors recommended a specialist.
He took one look at me and said, Something s amiss here, Walt McGuire said.
Whatever happened to me happened for a reason. Maybe so Walt would have that connection. Who knows, Sherry McGuire said.
Walt s diagnosis came too late to save his damaged heart, liver and kidneys, but it came in time for chemotherapy to stem his disease. That gave him a fighting chance.
I feel sad that someone will have to perish in order for me to survive. I guess that s the thing that hits me most, you know, Walt McGuire said. But, you know, I have a young daughter. I have a grandchild getting ready to be born. So I want to make sure I m here to see all that.
That will to live now hinges on time and a rare triple transplant at Methodist Hospital.
Click here for more information on the Methodist Transplant Center.
Click here for info on the Methodist DeBakey Cardiology Associates.
To learn more about amyloidosis, click here.