Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Other Magical Organ

I giggled out loud when the liver cancer specialist showed us a slide of a cherry tree.  I was that interested in livers by this point that I couldn't help it.  She explained that while on a walk outside, she noticed that the branches of this tree matched perfectly the major blood pathways in a human liver, so she snapped a photo to use in presentations like this one. 

The last hour of the two-hour workshop on liver cancer was fascinating (I'd already participated in ones on colon and breast cancer, neither of which were as 'meaty' as this one on the liver).  Due to having to come in half and hour late, it took me some time to catch up with what she'd already explained about what exactly the liver does for us and how things like Hep A, B, C, and cirrhosis affect things.  I, at one point, had to will my eyes to stay open, and boy am I glad I did.

I'll just skip right to the best part.  I knew already that the liver is the only internal organ that can regenerate.  I mean, it grows back if some of it gets cut off.  That, in itself, is creepy and wonderful.  She explained that a patient can have up to 75% of his liver cut off to remove tumors.  Sew the dude back up and guess how long it would take for this organ to grow back to its original size.

I asked my husband, and he guessed a year.  That was what I thought too.

But no, oh no.  A liver can grow back to its original weight (no bigger and no smaller even...exactly as it was) withing one month.  One measly month.  She said that the patient feels a lot of fatigue during this month because...yeah, the body is growing itself a liver.  That would wear me out too.

I just found it fascinating.  I could go on and on about it (not really).  It did make me think about how much I wish we had multiple lives to lead.  When I gasped out a loud "Woooow!" at her one-month bit of information, she nodded at me and high-fived me with a "IKR?!"  Not really, but she pretty much could have by the way her eyes got dreamy as she explained how "magical" this organ is and how much she loves her job.  I get that. I wanted to applaud her.

I wasn't born with what it takes to be in the medical field, but I sure to understand why people are drawn to this field of study.

The best part of my day was seeing this physician spend her life waxing poetic about livers to the point of seeing them in flowering fruit trees.  What a joy.

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