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Three Hospitals Hope To Spark A Reduction In Surgeries By Inexperienced Doctors
Kaiser Health News

After James Happli of Mosinee, Wisconsin, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he was referred to a surgeon at a local hospital where he had been treated for lymphoma 28 years earlier. The surgeon told Happli and his wife that although she had never successfully performed a Whipple procedure — the pancreatic cancer operation widely regarded as among the most difficult in surgery — she believed she could do it with the help of a second surgeon.

But Happli’s operation had to be aborted after it proved too difficult. Several months later, the pipe fitter, now 58, traveled to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, 175 miles from his home. His operation, one of 127 Whipples done at Froedtert last year, was performed successfully by chief surgeon Douglas B. Evans.

The procedure involves removing part of the pancreas and small intestine as well as the gallbladder, and reconnecting the digestive organs. It proved to be particularly complicated in Happli’s case, Evans said, because of tissue damage caused by radiation treatment for his lymphoma.