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My Journey to needing a Liver

In the summer of 1964, when I was 16 and between my Freshman and Sophomore years in high school, I was run over by a pharmacy delivery truck, whose driver had broken into a drug delivery. He illegally took some barbituates, became a Driver Under the Influence (DUI), lost control of the vehicle and ran up onto a sidewalk. I was on that sidewalk, with my cousin, and returning home from a workout. I was run over, my right ear partially severed, from being dragged by the truck some 100 feet. I had a cracked backbone, bruised kidney, ruptured spleen and 2 concussions. I was in a coma for 2 weeks. I was told that only my youth spared me from death.

Updates (4)

February 2, 2019

I had a second RFA (radiofrequency ablation) of a suspicious 1.5 cm lesion on January 22. My IR (Interventional Radiology team) led by Dr Gimenez, also biopsied a thrombosis (blood clot) that was suspicious. The follow up confirmed that the ablation was successful , but the biopsy returned a positive result for malignancy. Therefore, I am scheduled for a Y-90 Radiation segmentectomy (RS) of the clot in early February.

Radiation segmentectomy (RS) is a minimally invasive option that uses the radioisotope yttrium-90 (Y90) to destroy tumors. The isotope is embedded into tiny beads that are delivered through a catheter into a blood vessel in the liver. They then travel to the site of the tumor, where they come to rest and deliver their radioactive effect while sparing much of the surrounding healthy tissue.

The procedure’s name derives from the fact that surgeons divide the liver into a number of segments. Using an imaging approach called cone beam CT, interventional radiologists gain a detailed view of the complex liver vasculature and can focus delivery of the Y90 to the relevant segment.

“Cone beam CT has revolutionized our ability to perform segmental injections isolated to very small tumors, sparing the majority of normal tissue,” said study senior author Riad Salem, M.D., chief of vascular interventional radiology in the Department of Radiology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “Before cone beam CT, we had the ability to focus radiation, but not with this level of accuracy.”

Dr. Salem and colleagues studied long-term outcomes in 70 early-stage HCC patients who had undergone RS between 2003 and 2016. They analyzed the patients’ responses to treatment based on two commonly used sets of criteria.

Based on one criteria, 90 percent of patients showed positive response to the therapy, of which 59 percent showed complete response. Based on a second criteria, 71 percent achieved positive response, of which 16 percent achieved complete response.

RS controlled the target tumor, slowed the time to disease progression and improved survival outcomes at rates comparable to radiofrequency ablation, surgery and transplantation for early-stage HCC patients.

Almost three-quarters of patients had no progression of cancer in the target tumor five years after treatment. Median overall survival was 6.7 years, and one-, three-, and five-year survival probabilities were 98 percent, 66 percent and 57 percent, respectively. One-, three-, and five-year overall survival probability was 100 percent, 82 percent and 75 percent in patients with a baseline tumor size of 3 centimeters or less.

So, I am hopeful for a positive outcome and pray daily that is what we achieve.

My fundraiser is just about two weeks away (Feb 17th) and I feel good about the response and preparation. Many of my musician friends will participate and I thank them all from the bottom of my heart. Others have made generous donations of time and money to bolster my cause. I truly am blessed with the outpouring of support. I will be going on WWOZ radio station (Guardians of the Groove) the week prior to the event and making my final pitch for attendance. Please pray for me and if you are in New Orleans try to attend as I anticipate a great show!

December 7, 2018

I had my Radiofrequency Ablation on October 29 and after just reviewing the follow up labs and MRI, I am happy to say it was successful . My labs are fairly normal considering my diagnosis and from the IR notes : “Posttreatment change of right hepatic lobe lesion without evidence of residual or recurrent disease” That means that they ablated the cancerous cell and it is “gone”. Which is great news for me and provides a bridge of time until my actual transplant !

Additionally, preparation and organization of my benefit fundraiser program is coming along nicely (with the greatest of help from my HOPEHELPLIVE coordinator, Ms Jeanne Ketcham), and it is scheduled for Sunday February 17 ,2019 at the Rock ‘n Bowl, in New Orleans, from 1:30-5:30pm. It is supposed to go live on this page pretty soon. Thank you, Jeanne ! And thank you to all who follow this journey and for your prayers and support.

Photo Galleries (1)

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February 18, 2019

Howie, please know that we are here to support you however we can!! We love you, brother, and pray for your good health! Tim and Mary Lynn

Timothy Kelly

February 14, 2019

Good Luck Howard !

Richard Watson

February 6, 2019

Howard, God Bless you and praying the Lord keep you in His care and restore your healthfor many years forward. God Bless

lou coniglio

January 30, 2019

Praying that all goes well!

Louis Aguirre