Pamela Valentino, MD, a pediatric hepatologist and transplant specialist, knows that acute liver failure is one of the scariest conditions a child can have.
“One minute they are completely healthy, and the next their liver has stopped working and the need for transplantation becomes a real possibility,” says Dr. Valentino. “Many of our patients have experienced this, but in most cases, we are able to help the liver recover without the need for a transplant.”
Dr. Valentino, who treats a variety of conditions including autoimmune liver disease, genetic liver disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, was drawn to hepatology in medical school. “The liver is the major factory for the body,” she says. “When this factory isn’t producing everything the body needs, people can become really sick in so many different ways.”
When medicines don’t help and a liver transplant is the best option, Dr. Valentino says she is amazed by how quickly kids can recover and go on to lead happy, healthy lives. “I will always remember this adorable one-month-old baby who looked completely healthy on the outside, but had an extremely sick liver on the inside,” she says. “After liver transplantation, this child thrived and was full of energy.”
Dr. Valentino is an assistant professor of pediatrics, with a subspecialty in transplant hepatology, at Yale School of Medicine. Her research interests include primary sclerosing cholangitis, an autoimmune liver disease that affects the bile ducts, as well as outcomes following treatment of bile duct strictures post-transplant.
Yale Medicine, Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital