At age six, Sam Goldman was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a disease of the small bile duct in the liver. Seven years later, the disease had progressed to the point where Sam needed a liver transplant.
Rather than be put on a waiting list, in August 2010 Sam and his parents Lee and Lisa chose to do a living donor transplant. Lisa would be the donor.
The procedure was performed at a New York-area hospital. But the family’s ordeal was far from over. Sam developed severe complications from the surgical procedure. He was in and out of the hospital so often, he missed all but 9 days of 8th grade. He was actually sicker than he had been before the transplant. By the following spring, everyone knew Sam would need a new liver.
At a friend’s suggestion, the Goldmans went to Yale New Haven Transplantation Center to meet with Dr. Emre. From that point on, things started looking up for Sam faster than the family could have imagined. By May 29, a month after their initial consultation, Sam received his new liver. But what most impressed the Goldman family was the degree of care they received from Dr. Emre and his team. And the extent to which they cared for Sam as a team.
“I think the difference that I saw is that Dr. Emre and his entire team treated Sam as an individual and not a statistic.” says Lisa Goldman. “This is what’s going on with Sam. This is what we’re doing for Sam. This is how Sam’s going to be treated.”
In fact, when Sam learned that he was going to have to spend some extra time at the hospital, Dr. Emre came out of surgery just to console him. And when Sam had a craving for cookies just days after surgery, Dr. Emre understood that compassion is sometimes more important than protocol. Sam got his cookies.
“Everybody had studied Sam’s file. Everybody knew exactly what was going on. There was a great relay of information.” says Lee Goldman. “It was just a very strong, comforting, bonding feeling”
Or as Sam puts it, “I think at Yale New Haven, more than anything else, everything really is based around the patient.