Treating rock star patients — and their heroic donors
“My patients are rock stars,” Dr. David Bruno explains. To understand why, consider the journey of a transplant patient: from the diagnosis of learning an organ is failing, to the potential time on the transplant wing and not knowing when or if you’ll get the call, to finding a living donor — and then the surgery itself.
“Transplantation can be daunting and scary. But a transplant patient’s resilience to overcome and thrive after this entire journey is awe-inspiring,” says Dr. Bruno, an Associate Professor of Surgery in the Division of Transplant Surgery at the VCU School of Medicine. “There’s nothing like it. We are giving patients that second chance, and that’s what makes this job so rewarding.”
Dr. Bruno oversees liver transplantation at VCU Health Hume-Lee Transplant Center. He specializes in liver and kidney transplantation, and leads all aspects of liver transplants, including deceased-donor transplantation and Hume-Lee’s reinvigorated living liver transplant program.
His interest in the complex living-donor procedure was piqued for a simple reason: the gift of giving.
“The liver is a special organ, and patients don’t have any alternatives outside a transplant when their liver fails,” he says. “A living donor is a healthy patient who is trying to help a friend or family member or someone they have a relationship with, who has a life-threatening disease. It’s nothing short of a heroic act. As a surgeon, you have to remember an organ donor made this surgery possible, and it’s an honor to play a role in someone’s heroic act of giving the gift of life.”
In addition to treating acute liver failure, Dr. Bruno also treats chronic, viral, or autoimmune hepatitis, fatty liver disease, liver damage, primary and bile duct cancer, metabolic liver disease, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC), and Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC). His current research interests include finding clinical therapies for both liver and kidney transplant surgery. He joined VCU from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where he was on faculty and served as director of the affiliated medical center’s transplant fellowship program.
Dr. Bruno is passionate about his patients – both adults and children – and brings that enthusiasm into every appointment and surgery. He recognizes the anxiety a transplantation surgery can create and holds the hand of each patient to prepare them for each step of their journey.
“I let my patients know that they’re not alone,” he says. “I am just one member of a talented, multi-disciplinary and patient-centered team here to provide excellent care and support to you and your family. We will guide you, support you, and provide you with outstanding care every step of the way.”