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As reported by The Hartford Courant, October 8, 2008.

Former Hartford Mayor Recovering After Surgery

By Jeffrey B. Cohen

Former Mayor Mike Peters — restaurateur, Hartford booster and former firefighter — underwent a nearly eight-hour liver transplant early Tuesday and is recovering at Hartford Hospital.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Peters, 59, was listed in critical, but stable condition and his doctors said they were pleased with the initial results. They say Peters could remain in the hospital another week or more.

Diagnosed with cirrhosis, Peters had considered various options — including a partial transplant from a relative, or a full transplant from an unrelated, brain-dead donor. In the end, a donor liver became available and Peters went to Hartford Hospital about noon Monday, family friend Pat Ryan said. The surgery didn't begin until 3 a.m. Tuesday, ending at about 10:30 a.m., Ryan said.

"He's out, he's doing well. The surgery was as successful as it could be, and we're all hoping for the best," Ryan said after the procedure.

The most common reason in the U.S. for a liver transplant is liver failure due to chronic hepatitis C, according to Dr. George Wu, a professor of medicine and the director of the Hepatology Center at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Another major cause is alcohol use, Wu said.

As of last Friday, 87 people were awaiting livers from transplant centers in Connecticut, according to a spokeswoman for the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

Although the exact origin of Peters' disease is unclear, the former mayor has never been bashful about drinking, once telling a reporter, "I am who I am. I didn't take an oath of sobriety." After his diagnosis, however, Peters stopped drinking entirely — both to preserve the health of his ailing liver and improve his chances of getting a new one, Ryan said.

Dr. Matt Brown, one of Peters' two surgeons, said that the transplant center at Hartford Hospital requires people with a history of drinking to abstain for six months before the transplant.

Brown said he got word Monday that a donor liver was available at a hospital in central Connecticut. As he removed the liver from the younger, brain-dead person, his partner, Dr. Anne Lally, prepared Peters — who, by virtue of objective medical scoring and his proximity to the donor — was at the top of the candidate list.

The former mayor would eventually get three long incisions in what Brown called "a massive operation." When he saw Peters' liver, Brown said, it was clear the former mayor was in the advanced stages of illness.

After the surgery, Brown visited Peters, who was on a ventilator, but responsive — shaking his head and squeezing the doctor's hand when asked.

"But it's not like he's up there doing crossword puzzles," Brown said.

Peters left office in 2001. He has said he is considering a run for mayor in 2011.