New transplant center celebrates successful first operations

Virgil Macy
Virgil Macy
Jonathan Saragosa
Jonathan Saragosa
Dr. Linda Wong, Liver Transplant Program Surgical Director
Dr. Linda Wong, Liver Transplant Program Surgical Director

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Patients are starting to get life saving organ transplants now that Queen's Medical Center has opened the state's only transplant clinic and it's already having an impact.

"This is not so much of a press conference as it is a party," announced Dr. Linda Wong, Liver Transplant Program Surgical Director.

A party complete with a cake.  And the presents include the gift of life.

"I get a second life, I get that chance a lot of people didn't get," said Virgil Macy, the first transplant patient at the new center. "I feel great less than three days out of the hospital."

"Getting a second chance at life is something like a miracle. Thanks to Queen's and Dr. Wong and her staff I'm here today," said Jonathan Saragosa, second transplant patient.

Virgil Macy and Jonathan Saragosa were the first two patients at the new Queen's Transplant Center.  Both got new livers just last week.  They are thankful the operation was done in Hawaii and not thousands of miles away.

"My family could have fallen apart, not to mention I'd have to move up there to be near the facility, you know it just devastates the whole family," said Macy.

The center rushed to open after the old clinic at the Hawaii Medical Center closed.

"It's hugely exciting, it's taken us three months to get this whole program together," said Dr. Wong.

Dr. Wong performed the first ever liver transplant in Hawaii in 1993 and did the first operation in this new center as well.

"It was just exhausting to have to open a new transplant center twice in my lifetime. Most people do it once and they never do it again so to have to do it twice in my lifetime was pretty hard, but gratifying," said Dr. Wong.

Irving Lebowitz was also at the party. He was the last transplant patient from the Hawaii Medical Center. He is recovering from his liver transplant in November.

"I don't know how thankful I can be to donors. They are the people that start the process happening, their sacrifice. The parents that allowed their lost loved ones to be an organ donor, they're the heroes that start this," said Lebowitz.

There are 412 people in Hawaii on the transplant waiting list. Twenty pass away every year while waiting for an organ.  The number would be higher if not for the new center.

"Queen's really did yeoman's work to make sure we didn't lose these gentlemen," said Dr. Josh Green, (D) State Senator and Medical Doctor.

"As soon as I'm pau healing here and stuff I'm going to do a lot of stuff that I couldn't do for a while," said Saragosa.

Namely spending time with family.

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