There are two doctors in El Paso leading the way for improved medical for liver disease patients in the community.
The Hospitals of Providence recruited Dr. Aleksandr Reznichenko and El Paso native Dr. Ruben Ramirez Vega to lead the city's first liver transplant program.
Typically, patients who are approved for a liver transplant must travel to Dallas, Houston, San Antonio or Scottsdale, Arizona for the procedure.
Liver disease can be genetic, but factors like alcohol use, virus and obesity can lead to serious conditions.
Dr. Ramirez Vega, a gastroenterologist, has studied in Juarez, El Paso and Dallas.
"When I was doing my training, I learned about the need our community has for liver disease care and specialty care. So when I did my training in Dallas I decided to come back to just contribute to the community," Ramirez Vega said.
The El Paso native said people living with liver disease in high than the national average.
Dr. Reznichenko, from Russia, has been a surgeon for 30 years and had to become certified in the United States in the late 1990's.
In the last three years, Reznichenko has focused on liver transplant surgery.
Together, the doctors plan to conduct the first liver transplant in the summer of 2019 and possibly ten surgeries to follow.
Reznichenko said if the first surgery is successful, he estimates at least 40 transplants yearly for the next four to five years.
"It's a big city with a significant amount of liver disease and it's a great opportunity for us to be successful," said Reznichenko.
Most importantly, both doctors believe this will keep more patients in El Paso without the extra cost of having to travel out of town. Instead, they can use the time to recover from the surgery.