Local News

Man Leaves Hospital With New Liver, No Sign Of Hemophilia

Posted April 7, 2005 6:00 a.m. EDT

— A few minutes and a bandage will stop bleeding from a minor cut for most people. But for a hemophiliac or "free bleeder," even a bruise could be life threatening. Three months ago, a patient at UNC Hospitals left with a new liver and no more hemophilia.

Mack Leggett remembers many close calls when bleeding would not stop.

"I had a tooth pulled when I was real young, about 9 years old, and almost bled to death," he said.

A contaminated blood transfusion in 1980 gave him Hepatitis C, which led to cirrhosis of the liver. Leggett's doctors said he might not live long enough to get a life-saving liver transplant.

"The Lord gave me 20 years," Leggett said.

Three months ago, Dr. Robert Watson gave Leggett that new liver -- the first hemophiliac liver transplant ever at UNC Hospitals. Only about 50 have been done anywhere in the world.

"It actually sounds like a crazy idea for somebody with cirrhosis and a blood coagulation disorder to actually do a huge operation on," Watson said.

The transplant team made sure Leggettt had enough blood clotting medicine in his system to endure the surgery. The procedure was a success, and not just because Mack has a new healthy liver.

"It sort of serendipitously cures the hemophilia," said UNC hematologist Dr. Alice Ma.

"It's wonderful. I feel like I have a new husband. He's just ... he has a lot of energy," said Susan Leggett, Mack's wife.

"Now, hopefully I'll be able to play sports with him and stuff like that," said Kyle Leggett, Mack's son.

A liver transplant is too risky to be used simply as a cure for hemophilia. Most with the blood disorder can live a long life by limiting their activities and taking medication.