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How far would you travel for the best care? You don’t have to!

November 12, 2020

There are many factors to consider when selecting a surgeon – confirming credentials, referrals from loved ones, respected ratings, surgeon experience and more. When retired reference librarian Kevin Lause of Gibsonburg, Ohio was diagnosed with stage III pancreatic cancer, he was determined to find the best surgeon to perform his Whipple procedure, a specialized procedure that treats cancer of the pancreas while preserving the entire stomach. He read about Malcolm Bilimoria, M.D., a pancreas and liver surgeon at Northwest Community Healthcare on PanCan.org (a pancreas cancer resource website) and decided to seek consultation with him as he was considering a clinical trial for NanoKnife® in which Dr. Bilimoria participates.

“In my research I found that Dr. Bilimoria seemed to have performed more Whipple procedures than nearly anyone else still practicing,” Lause shares.

Lause reached out to NCH to make an initial contact with Dr. Bilimoria and traveled from Ohio for the initial appointment. “I was already determined to have Dr. Bilimoria perform the procedure, but I became even more convinced after meeting with him in person. He is that rare combination of extraordinary skill and deep compassion which one seeks in an ideal doctor. He turned out to be one of the warmest, most supportive people I have ever encountered. I would have traveled to the end of the Earth to be treated by him.”

Recently pancreas cancer has received a lot of awareness as the world has watched the fight and recent loss of beloved game show host, Alex Trebek. November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month and a fitting time to learn about the expertise and numerous treatment options right here at NCH.

In 2009, surgical oncologist Bilimoria joined NCH and opened the Illinois Center for Pancreatic and Hepatobiliary Diseases (ICPHD), giving patients access to complex surgeries performed by a leading pancreas and liver surgeon. Dr. Bilimoria has performed more than 3,000 complex pancreas and liver surgeries during a career that has spanned over two decades. ICPHD has received nationwide acclaim for shorter operative times, shorter postoperative hospitalizations and lower complication rates when compared to national averages.

ICPHD offers a wide variety of advanced surgical procedures. Each year surgeons travel from throughout the world to NCH to learn the latest techniques for the surgical treatment for pancreas cancer.  Three months ago several surgeons from Peru travelled to NCH to learn more about the NanoKnife surgery Dr. Bilimoria has used to help many of his patients.

Advanced surgeries offered at NCH include:

  • Pancreaticoduodenectomy (Whipple procedure)
    Performed in a specialized manner that saves the entire stomach
  • Distal pancreatectomy and splenectomy
  • Robotic distal pancreatectomy
  • Liver resections that allow for maximal preservation of normal liver tissue
  • Robotic liver resections
  • Complex biliary reconstruction for benign and malignant diseases
  • Microwave ablation of liver tumors
  • NanoKnife ablation of locally advanced pancreas and biliary cancers
  • Pancreatic debridement for necrotizing pancreatitis
  • Complex stomach and esophageal surgery for benign and malignant diseases
  • Resections of intra-abdominal and retroperitoneal tumors

The Whipple procedure, that Lause needed, is an innovative approach that allows for patients to eat breakfast the morning after surgery and leave the hospital after only a few days. Dr. Bilimoria has been performing the Whipple procedure with preservation of the entire stomach for more than 20 years.

“I had the Whipple procedure performed in February and required about a week of hospital care in order to recover. The staff of the sixth-floor post-op recovery at NCH treated me with such skill and compassion that I will never be able to thank them sufficiently. The recovery period is very challenging and they made it much less onerous than it might otherwise have been by answering to my every need and worry, and with caring compassion.”

The NanoKnife ablation clinical trial that Lause joined is a clinical trial studying a novel intra-operative ablation device that is an important surgical tool for patients with locally advanced pancreas and biliary cancers. Patients who have been deemed “inoperable” at other institutions have sought out ICPHD for this procedure. A nationwide leader in NanoKnife ablation procedures, ICPHD serves as a teaching center for other surgeons who are quickly realizing the benefits of this emerging technology. NCH is the only hospital in Illinois currently offering this trial to its patients. This fall, Dr. Bilimoria surpassed 100 procedures using the NanoKnife ablation technique.

Lause really knows his research!

Now 10 months post-surgery, Lause notes, “My most recent CT scan revealed that I am the rare pancreas cancer patient who has ‘achieved’ remission. I would recommend Dr. Bilimoria without hesitation and have already done so during my sojourns in chemo and radiation therapies as I have come in contact with other patients back in Ohio.”

Lause also credits his wife with being an immeasurable force in contributing to his recovery, “There cannot possible be a more wonderful caregiver anywhere at any time than my wife Rebecca.”

See more information about pancreatic cancer services at NCH. Call 847-483-9400 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bilimoria.

No case is the same; results may vary.

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