Richard Rowe is moving on with his second chance at life. In October 2011, he was diagnosed with hepatocellular cancer (a type of liver cancer). A year later, he received a liver transplant at the University of Utah Hospital’s Transplant Center. Robin Kim, MD, a Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) investigator, headed his surgical team.
After being diagnosed by his doctors in Montana, Richard first met with Kim in December 2011. “He told me they couldn’t do anything to save my liver. I had to have a transplant,” he says. Richard faced a 10-month wait for a donor liver. In the meantime, his doctors performed a procedure called ablation that stopped his liver tumor from growing.
In addition, Richard made it a point to take better care of his body. The transplant team recommended he lose weight and improve his eating habits. “They told me I had to cut out a lot of the foods I was eating and stay on a ‘low-low’ diet. I changed my eating habits totally,” he says.
Richard spent lots of time at the gym, too, so he could be in the best shape possible when a donor liver became available. He is convinced his workouts contributed to his speedy recovery from the transplant surgery.
“The main thing for me was not to ever think negative things about what was happening, keeping faith that all would turn out well. And it has,” he says. During the wait for a donor organ, Richard’s church, support group meetings, and time spent with family helped him keep that faith strong.
After celebrating the first anniversary of his liver transplant, Richard reported that “everything’s looking good in his medical follow-ups. With my new liver, I have another chance,” Richard says. “Now I get to spend time with my kids and see my grandkids grow up.” He has four children and seven grandchildren with another on the way.
Some HCI patients and families may meet Richard in person. He now works part-time at the HCI Apartments, where patients and caregivers from outside the Salt Lake area can stay during treatment. He prepares the apartments for new arrivals and takes care of the grounds.
“I wanted to give back to the place that gave me this second chance,” he says. “So I volunteered at Huntsman Cancer Institute. I wasn’t planning on it turning into a paid job, but here I am.”
Learn more about liver cancer or visit our Hepatobiliary Cancer Program website.
Learn about becoming an organ donor.