10 Images

For one man, a new lease on life

TRANSIT: A liver arrives at St. Luke’s Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla. For organ transplants, the nation is divided into 58 territories, each with its own organ supply and demand. The Jacksonville area is surrounded by territories that often turn down less-than-perfect organs, which are then used by St. Luke’s to great effect. The hospital performed 246 liver transplants last year, leading the country for the second year in a row. (Carolyn Cole / LAT)
INCOMING: Dr. Darrin Willingham prepares to put a liver on ice for patient Frank Evanac. St. Luke’s Hospital has the shortest waiting time in the United States, a median of six weeks. The nationwide figure is more than three years. (Carolyn Cole / LAT)
PRE-OPERATION: A nurse prepares Evanac for his liver and kidney transplant. Evanac was among the fewer than 2% of patients savvy enough to leave town and join a waiting list in an organ-rich territory. (Carolyn Cole / LAT)
Dr. Willingham prepares the donated liver for transplantation. (Carolyn Cole / LAT)
Dr. Willingham is about to be handed the new liver. A physician assistant, right, works with the surgeon during the all-night procedure. (Carolyn Cole / LAT)
SURGERY: The liver in the foreground is the diseased organ removed from Evanac, who suffered from hepatitis. (Carolyn Cole / LAT)
AFTERWARD: Evanac visits with his wife, Kathleen, while he recovers in the intensive care unit at the hospital. He had been awaiting a liver and a kidney for four years in New York, where about 2,000 people vie for a scarce supply of organs. On a tip, he joined a new waiting list in Jacksonville. Two weeks later, he received a dual transplant. (Carolyn Cole / LAT)
Evanac, now 54, a backhoe driver from Staten Island, N.Y., smiles as he recovers from surgery. (Carolyn Cole / LAT)
NEW LEASE ON LIFE: Evanac enjoys a sandwich at a New York deli. He is strong enough to climb onto his backhoe again. (Carolyn Cole / LAT)
GRIEF: Laura Van Vlack sits next to a photo of her husband Jonathan, who died while waiting for a liver in New York. (Carolyn Cole / LAT)