Just over a month after receiving a new liver, Mickey Mantle sa
DALLAS (AP) _ Just over a month after receiving a new liver, Mickey Mantle said today he was thankful for the transplant that saved his life.
``I’m not well yet. I’m getting a lot better, they say _ but I’m not really well,″ he said at a news conference at Baylor University Medical Center.
Mantle said the donated liver saved his life.
``I can barely remember coming in. I was chilling so bad that they had like four or five blankets on me. I was in the hospital and didn’t know it,″ he said.
Mantle appeared before a backdrop of seven oversized baseball cards, each about 5 feet high and 3 feet wide. The cards were signed by thousands of well-wishers attending a weekend event held in conjunction with the 66th Annual All-Star game.
Mantle spoke today knowing he could reach a larger audience because the national baseball media was in the Dallas area for the game, to be held tonight at The Ballpark in Arlington. Mantle won’t be attending because of the heat, expected to be over 100 degrees.
Mantle, 63, received a new liver June 8. Doctors said then that the former New York Yankees slugger could’ve died within two weeks had he kept his liver, which was being eroded by cancer, hepatitis C and cirrhosis.
Because an organ was found within days, many people said the baseball Hall of Famer was moved up on the waiting list because of his stature. That notion has been repeatedly denied by doctors, the organ bank and the Mantles.
Soon after surgery, Mantle said he wanted to become a spokesman to help get more people to donate organs. Local organ banks say the news coverage generated by his case already has made a difference.
Some 10,000 organ donor cards were passed out during the All-Star Fanfest. Since the transplant, doctors have increased their requests for donor cards from about a dozen a week to 700 per week.
Doctors said they removed all visible signs of cancer during the transplant, although they fear that leftover cancerous cells could attack Mantle at any time.
To combat that, Mantle has been undergoing chemotherapy since during the transplant. Doctors say it will be more than a month before they know whether the cancer-fighting treatment has been successful.
In general, patients with Mantle’s kind of cancer have an 85 percent chance of living one year after the transplant and anyone who receives a new liver has a 70 percent chance of living five more years.
Mantle’s five-year survival rate is about 60 percent because of his age, four decades of heavy drinking and the chance of cancer returning, doctors say.
Mantle was released from the hospital June 28, exactly one month after he was admitted because of stomach pains. He returns to Baylor often for checkups, although he’s also been able to spend time with friends at his favorite golf course.
His most recent treatment came last week when a catheter was implanted into his chest to make toxic anti-cancer drugs easier to take.