Shelley Fabares: Illness and Liver Transplant

This is a touching story with a happy outcome for a courageous woman. Liver transplant is a marvel of modern technology. In fact, when needed for patients with liver failure, it is a usually successful life-saving procedure. But, as Ms. Fabares indicated, a shortage of liver donors has created an unacceptably long waiting list for patients needing liver transplant. Indeed, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), more organ donors are sorely needed.

Leslie J. Schoenfield, M.D., Ph.D.
Medical Editor,

Actor and Liver Transplant Recipient, Shelley Fabares, Says She is Grateful for What She Has Gained Through Her Illness and Transplant

LOS ANGELES CA (April 22, 2003) - It was bad enough when Shelley Fabares fell through the floor joists of her under-construction home back in 1994. In that fall, the actor, who is best-known for her starring role as Christine Armstrong in the sitcom, "Coach," broke all the ribs on the left side of her body, but she had no way of knowing that she was facing other, far more serious health issues. She needed a liver transplant.

In the emergency room, doctors treated her broken ribs and recommended that she follow up with her own physician in a few days - merely as a precautionary measure. However, to everyone's surprise, the follow-up evaluation showed liver counts that were, in her words, "off the charts." Although doctors were unable to identify the precise cause of the problem, over the next several years, she took medications, and seemed to stabilize. Her liver counts remained above normal, but they seemed to plateau.

Then, in early 1999, things took an abrupt turn for the worse. One day without warning, she experienced what is known as an esophageal bleed - sudden and severe bleeding in her esophagus - and was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Emergency Department. "I was terribly ill," she recalls.