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A Piece of My Mind
May 15, 2013

Patient’s Sister, Seeking Job

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Senior Editor.

Author Affiliation: Department of Political Science, University of California, San Diego (bazimmer@ucsd.edu).

JAMA. 2013;309(19):2003-2004. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.2864

My brother was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma when I was 4 years old and he was just shy of 2. It wasn't until years (and several cancers) later that we learned he had Gardner syndrome. Over the last 26 years, Hans had dozens of operations and underwent many lifetime doses of radiation and chemotherapy. The disease and its treatments took a toll on his body, and he had a multivisceral transplant in 2007 that gave him a new stomach, small intestine, pancreas, and liver. Five years later, his liver showed signs of chronic rejection and he was put back on the transplant list. We waited for organs for four months. Hans was primarily in the hospital during this time. Finally, internal bleeding, the result of debilitated organs and a large abdominal wound, took his life on December 26, 2012.