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Liver Transplant Support Group Goes Online

CSMC patients "attend" meetings via the Internet

An innovative online service at Cedars-Sinai enables liver transplant patients to attend regular support group meetings - without ever leaving their homes.

The online group is the brainchild of John Pappas, a licensed clinical social worker in the Liver Transplant Program, who conceived the program late last year after realizing that many patients could not attend support group meetings due to distance, health and work schedules.

"We have quite a few patients who are really sick and unable to attend, and we have patients who are working," said Pappas. "The support group meets every Wednesday at noon, and it's hard for some people to attend a midday meeting."

Since its inception, about 70 patients have signed up for the online group, with participants from as far away as the Inland Empire and Ventura and Orange counties. In contrast, only about seven to 17 patients attend the face-to-face meetings, Pappas said.

The online e-mail distribution group also enables patients to send and receive support throughout the year, not just during weekly meetings.

"I try to check in daily with the online group," said transplant patient Lori Dunn in an e-mail. "I started going to the group in September (2005), two weeks after my release from the hospital. They have become like family. We share something so personal with each other."

The online support group is open to all members of the Liver Transplant Program. For more information, please contact John Pappas at 310-423-6850.