Greek Orthodox church leader’s liver transplant aborted after complications during operation (10/10/07)
ATHENS, Greece (AP, 10/10/07) — Doctors in Miami halted liver transplant surgery for the head of Greece's Orthodox Church, Archbishop Christodoulos, on Monday after his cancer was found to have spread, church officials in Athens said.
The 68-year-old archbishop was diagnosed with cancer in June after intestinal surgery. He was having surgery at Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital Monday after waiting for 50 days for a compatible liver to become available.
The operation was overseen by renowned Greek transplant specialist Andreas Tzakis, director of the University of Miami's organ transplant institute.
But during the operation, Tzakis discovered the cancer had spread, said Harris Konidaris, the archbishop's spokesman.
Due to this, “the transplant was not possible,'' Konidaris said, adding that the archbishop would remain in the hospital in Miami for several days and possibly weeks so doctors could determine a possible new method of treatment.
Elected church leader in 1998, Christodoulos often stirred controversy with politically tinged statements.
He was instrumental in attempts to improve ties with the Catholic Church; in 2001, Christodoulos received in Athens Pope John Paul II — the first pope to visit Greece in nearly 1,300 years — ignoring loud protests from Orthodox zealots. He followed up last year with a historic visit to the Vatican, where he and Pope Benedict XVI signed a joint declaration calling for inter-religious dialogue and restating opposition to abortion and euthanasia.
In Greece, politicians accused the archbishop of meddling in their affairs, angered by his vocal criticism of everything from homosexuality and globalization to Turkey's efforts to join the European Union and a recent government effort to tone down nationalism in school history books.