Loma Linda Medical Center conducts its 500th liver transplant

Francisco Munoz ready to go home after life-saving surgery

LOMA LINDA, Calif. - A Coachella man who was barely clinging to life weeks ago became the 500th patient at Loma Linda University Medical Center to receive a liver transplant. He's now undergoing rehabilitation and preparing to go home, hospital officials said.

After a lifetime of alcohol use, Francisco Munoz had a deteriorating liver and was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. He stopped drinking alcohol and has been sober for awhile now, but the damage to his liver had already taken its toll.

"If I had known how much suffering I would have because of alcohol, I never would have started," Munoz said.

He was on a transplant list and received a liver transplant on March, 1, after being taken to the hospital in very serious condition. Doctors said he was on life support and in a coma for weeks.

"He would not have made it otherwise," said Dr. Michael de Vera, Munoz' liver transplant surgeon and director of the Loma Linda University Medical Center Transplantation Institute.

Dr. de Vera said the first liver transplant at the hospital was done in 1993, and the program has been improving over the years.

"I am very happy to have received a liver and I look forward to being home again," said Munoz, a farmworker. "My wish is to go back home and be able to spend time with my children."

Doctors said Munoz is likely to return home on Tuesday.

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