Archbishop transplant off

Archbishop Christodoulos’s long-awaited liver transplant in the USA was aborted yesterday and the head of the Church of Greece will undergo a different type of treatment after it was found that his cancer has spread. The 68-year-old archbishop flew to the USA in August to wait for a compatible liver donor but it took 50 days for one to be found. Christodoulos went in for surgery yesterday at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital at 1 a.m. Greek time (6 p.m. Sunday local time) after a suitable liver had been found. It came from a 25-year-old man who had been killed in a car crash. The Greek transplant specialist Andreas Tzakis, director of the University of Miami’s organ transplant institute, oversaw the three-hour operation. But the Holy Synod issued a statement shortly afterward saying the liver transplant was «not possible» because Tzakis found that the cancer had metastasized to his stomach. Samples were taken for further tests. «After this development, the archbishop will undergo the suitable treatment for his condition,» the Holy Synod said. Tsakis was due to hold a press conference late last night. The liver initially meant for Christodoulos was transplanted to another patient instead. The transplant is now extremely unlikely to take place, Greek doctors told Kathimerini, and the archbishop is likely to undergo a form of chemotherapy. Christodoulos was admitted to hospital in Greece with intestinal problems in June, after which doctors discovered that he had liver cancer. The archbishop spent just over 40 days at the Aretaion Hospital in Athens. «Pain brings you closer to God, it makes you more receptive to his grace,» he admitted after being discharged. Christodoulos admitted that his illness had made him re-evaluate his feelings for people, in particular those with whom he had disagreements in the past. «It is at times like these that man feels his life is very short and, at the same time, too important to waste on trivialities,» said the archbishop. The Holy Synod is due to gather tomorrow. It will be the first meeting that will not be headed by the archbishop.

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