Friday, March 23, 2007

Liver Genetics, PBL, and Liver Transplant Selection Committee Meeting

Our seminar this morning was on the genetics of liver diseases. There are a lot of enzymes and metabolic pathways in the liver, so naturally a lot of things can go wrong there. Yet again, it reminds me about how amazing it is that so many of us turn out as well as we do. Some of the problems we discussed include Wilson's Disease, where the person has too much copper; and hemochromatosis, where they have too much iron. These excesses happen because the liver has mutated enzymes that make it unable to eliminate the extra metals. Women have a later onset of hemochromatosis symptoms than men do. Can you guess why? If you said because women lose iron when they menstruate, you're right.

Our PBL time was about half the usual length today. We had one person's presentation on liver histology to go over, which occupied most of our time. Then a woman who works with the Liver Transplant Selection Committee came to talk to us about how the Committee operates. We asked her some questions, and then it was time to go to the actual meeting. We're attending the meeting instead of having a POD seminar today.

There are a lot of people on the Selection Committee, including several doctors of course, but also nurses, social workers, and other people who are involved with caring for transplant recipients. They gave us a packet with info about each patient so that we'd know what was going on. One of the patients they were discussing today needed a kidney transplant as well as a liver transplant, and so the kidney transplant surgeons were there also. It was interesting to listen to the discussions at first, but after a few patients, it got kind of monotonous. Everyone was approved for the liver transplant list, even one patient who didn't actually need a transplant yet. All in all, the best thing that came out of this experience for me was that after it was over, I talked to one of the Committee physicians about shadowing him this summer. He gave me his card and told me to get in touch with him.

One of my friends who is going to be a student in next year's CCLCM class is staying with me tonight and tomorrow. After that, I'm leaving to go on spring break. So I won't post anything more until the week after, when we start our endocrinology and reproduction block.

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