Loma Linda University Medical Center – Murrieta (LLUMC–Murrieta) now offers the Whipple procedure, a highly complex surgery that can potentially cure patients of their pancreatic cancer.
Michael O’Leary, MD, a surgical oncologist at Loma Linda University Cancer Center who performs the Whipple at LLUMC–Murrieta, says Whipple procedure is one of the most challenging and time-consuming surgeries in the field. He says LLUMC–Murrieta, a community hospital, has trained and prepared extensively to offer patients in the area this life-saving surgery closer to home.
The fact that LLUMC–Murrieta is offering one of the most complex types of cancer surgeries to the surrounding community speaks to its top-notch facilities, vast capabilities, and quality care.Dr. Michael O’Leary
The hospital is the only medical facility in the Temecula Valley to offer the Whipple procedure. The next nearest medical facility to provide Whipple procedures is 40 miles north at Loma Linda University Medical Center or 60 miles south in San Diego.
“The fact that LLUMC–Murrieta is offering one of the most complex types of cancer surgeries to the surrounding community speaks to its top-notch facilities, vast capabilities, and quality care,” O’Leary says.
A Whipple procedure — also known as a pancreaticoduodenectomy — entails removing a portion of the pancreas, stomach, the first part of the small intestine (duodenum), the gallbladder, and a portion of the bile duct. O’Leary says the organs wrap around one of the largest blood vessels in the abdomen, which often requires delicate maneuvers. O’Leary says the surgery is designed to cure eligible patients of their pancreatic cancer.
Menifee resident Wally Moore says he was grateful to access the highly complex surgery close to his home in familiar surroundings. He had initially visited LLUMC–Murrieta in December 2022 to resolve a bile duct blockage. Yet imaging after the procedure revealed a mass on his pancreas — a biopsy confirmed pancreatic cancer.
Initially "dumbfounded" by his diagnosis, Moore says he and his wife felt reassured after connecting with O’Leary to learn more about pancreatic cancer and treatment options. Moore formed part of the 20% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that can be removed surgically.
O'Leary drew pictures of what a Whipple procedure entailed, which Moore says helped him better understand the process and feel even more confident in the LLUMC–Murrieta care team’s capabilities.
“Before going into a procedure, you’re not really sure what will happen,” Moore says. “But Dr. O’Leary was very professional with his explanations, and I gained even more trust and confidence in him.”
Knowing he was in good hands, Moore says he underwent the Whipple surgery last month. He healed for a week in the hospital with the aid of his care team before returning home to continue a steady recovery.
We look forward to the opportunity to care for more patients in the community like him by continuing to perform these life-saving surgeries.Dr. Michael O’Leary
Moore says he is looking forward to resuming the normality of life as he plans a trip to Las Vegas with his wife, where they married a year ago. He also rejoices in spending time with his four daughters, who live nearby, and his three grandchildren. A recent CT scan revealed no evidence of cancer in Moore's body, allowing him to celebrate his 79th birthday cancer-free.
“Our care team at LLUMC–Murrieta is thrilled that Mr. Moore has healed well from the surgery and can return to doing what he loves,” says O’Leary. “We look forward to the opportunity to care for more patients in the community like him by continuing to perform these life-saving surgeries.”
To learn more about cancer services and resources offered to patients at LLUMC–Murrieta, visit murrieta.lluh.org/services/cancer-care or call 951-290-4000.