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Boy, 4, Has Most of Liver Removed in Rare Surgery : Medicine: San Clemente youngster with cancer is recovering at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Daniel Harberts, a 4-year-old who underwent a rare and complicated operation Thursday in which most of his cancerous liver was removed, was recovering Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

“As far as we know at this time the surgery was successful,” said Ron Wise, spokesman for the medical center. “There is a great deal of optimism.”

After the eight-hour surgery, Daniel was easily weaned from the respirator, the hospital reported.

All of the visible malignant tumor was removed from the liver, and the remaining portion appeared to be recovering, Dr. Luis Podesta, the lead surgeon, said in prepared statement,

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Besides removing three of the four sections of the liver, the operation involved reconstructing his inferior vena cava, which transports blood to the heart, and the veins which drain blood in the liver.

Daniel was expected to be transferred today from the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit to a regular hospital bed and to return to his home in San Clemente in about a week.

Craig and Dorothy Harberts, Daniel’s parents, were not available to comment. But Teri Steel, a close friend who kept in touch with the couple through the surgery, said they were “very hopeful and appreciative. They are overwhelmed by the support from all of their friends.”

Steel, who organized a fund-raising campaign to help the Harberts pay Daniel’s medical bills, said that in the last two days she has been bombarded with calls from people throughout Southern California wanting to know how Daniel was doing.

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The Harberts learned their son had a rare form of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma last year when doctors discovered a tumor in his liver had spread to his right atrium, requiring immediate open-heart surgery.

Throughout the family’s battle, people in the community have sponsored carnivals, T-shirt sales and other benefits, raising so far about $40,000 of about $150,000 that the family needs for medical bills that will exceed their insurance coverage.

Steel said today that the San Clemente Police Service and Neighborhood Pride Program are holding a bake sale on Daniel’s behalf from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Max Berg Plaza Park in San Clemente.


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