On March 29, Pacific University Director of Center for Peace and Spirituality and University Chaplain Dr. Rev. Charles Currie, underwent lifesaving surgery to address his acute pancreatitis.
Currie had his first episode with acute pancreatitis three years ago and was diagnosed last summer. The Oregon Health Sciences University determined the episodes were being caused by a genetic mutation and the best medical option available was a Total Pancreatectomy and Auto Islet Transplant surgery at the University of Minnesota.
A Total Pancreatectomy includes a complete removal of the pancreas. The pancreas is then processed in a machine that isolates the insulin-producing cells. The isolated cells are then placed in an IV bag with a solution and the solution is then infused into the liver where they settle and grow.
According to Currie, this halts further pancreatitis attacks and provides hope that if the transplant takes he will not be diabetic.
Both Oregon Health Sciences University and the University of Minnesota conducted multiple tests for months to determine that Currie was a good candidate for surgery.
The surgery process typically lasts 12-14 hours and includes being in an intensive care unit for approximately 2-4 days, which means Currie had to prepare both mentally and physically.
“I had to get in fighting shape,” Currie said. “Which meant day after day at the gym and dropping over 50 pounds.”
After going through an intensive surgery, Currie said the hardest part of the surgery is having to be in Minneapolis for six weeks away from family and work.
“My wife, Liz Smith Currie, is here with me but we’ve both had to take leaves from work and our daughters are still in Portland with their grandmother finishing up their 8th grade year,” Currie said. “We miss everyone.”
Currie is now tasked with recovering from the surgery that took place a few weeks ago. Though Currie feels the recovery process is going well so far.
“Right now, two weeks after surgery, I’m still on a feeding tube,” Currie said. “Once I’m able to transition back to real food we can start making plans to return. But it will take months just to recover from the surgery.”
As the Director of Center for Peace and Spirituality and University Chaplin, Currie has been an influential member of the Pacific community. Because of this he has received a wide outpouring of support from students and community members.
The support we have received is immeasurable,” Currie said. “Pacific has been extraordinarily kind. Our family has been wonderful. We have had people visit, call, send cards, pray and more.”
With all the support he has received, Currie remains in good spirits and is looking forward to getting back to Pacific.
“Studies show that those with stronger support systems heal better from major surgeries. That being the case, I’m in great shape and might even try out next year for the Pacific soccer team,” Currie said jokingly.
As Currie continues to recover in Minneapolis, he is sad that he will not be able to attend this year’s graduation ceremony.
“One giant regret is not being able to attend Commencement this year,” Currie said. “I have a deep affection for all our students and wish those graduating only the best. I know they will change the world.”