Rare liver surgery helps man beat cancer

A Tampa man is cancer free thanks to an extreme liver surgery.

Sixty-seven-year-old Ken Brant was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011. He had surgery to remove the tumor, but in December 2016 he was diagnosed with liver cancer.

  • ALPS surgery involves splitting liver, altering veins
  • Has been performed about 500 times; this was TGH’s first
  • Ken Brant continues to recover, is cancer free

He was referred to Tampa General Hospital, where doctors told him he needed surgery to remove the cancerous portion of his liver. However, that would only leave Brant with 16 percent of his liver, which is not enough to survive.

So doctors considered a rare and extreme surgery called Associating Liver Partition and Stage Hepatectomy (ALPS).

“This is an operation when there is basically no hope for other interventions,” said Dr. Julio Sockolich at Tampa General Hospital’s Transplant, Hepatobility and Pancreas Surgery Department. “It’s an operation that is not done very often in the country or in the world.”

The surgery started in 2011 and since then has only been performed about 500 times worldwide.

Brant was the first patient to undergo the surgery at Tampa General Hospital.

ALPS consists of two surgeries. On Feb. 28, surgeons split Brant’s liver into two pieces and altered the veins so all the nutrients would flow into the good side of the liver to help it grow more quickly.

Two weeks later, the good portion of Brant’s liver had grown to 26 percent, which is enough to survive on its own. Brant then underwent a second surgery, where doctors removed the cancerous portion of his liver.

Brant went home from the hospital after four and a half weeks.

“From start to finish, it never entered my mind I wouldn’t survive,” Brant said. “I thought ‘This is major, but I am for sure going to make it.'”

Brant’s liver will continue to grow to about 70-80 percent of its normal size, which doctors say is big enough for him to lead a healthy life.

“I feel fine,” Brant said. “I am up walking, driving again, going to the store.”

Doctors say there’s only a 10 percent chance Brant’s cancer will reoccur and only a 10-15 percent chance for liver failure in the future.

“We may do some traveling,” Brant said. “It makes you think about do you want to live your life as you normally were or realize something may reoccur in coming years.”

Brant does have to have chemotherapy, but it will be a reduced dose.


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