Robert Collison, 59, died on Friday at a hospital in Milwaukee four months after undergoing 43 hours of surgery in New York to remove a huge cancerous tumor.
The operation, described in an article from Science Times, was performed by Dr. Tomoaki Kato, an expert in ex-vivo resection. He had to remove Collison’s liver, then re-implant it. The tumor, a liposarcoma that weighed 10 pounds, had engulfed other major organs. Dr. Kato also permanently removed two-thirds of Mr. Collison’s stomach, as well as parts of his pancreas and intestines.
The operation, at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, was the longest that Dr. Kato had ever performed. It was unusually difficult because Collison had extensive internal scarring from radiation treatments.
He had a difficult recovery, but by February, Collison seemed to be on the mend. But his wife Mary said he had only a few good weeks after returning home.
One problem followed another. An abscess formed on his liver. Bleeding inside his chest compressed his heart and required emergency surgery. His liver began to fail. He spent his last few weeks in the hospital, still determined to hang onto life, and agreed to hospice care only near the very end, when it became clear there was no hope. The exact cause of his death is not certain, nor is it known whether the cancer recurred.
Mrs. Collison said that neither her husband nor the family had regrets about the grueling operation in New York. They had all agreed that the surgery was his only chance, and he willingly took the risk.