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Living Donor Transplant Safe, Effective

Healthy Living Donors Can Bypass Liver Shortage for Transplantation
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"Better Than Expected" Results

The new study, which Mantry says represents the largest single-center experience with living donor liver transplantation in the U.S., looked at how the recipients fared.

"As a whole, they did very well, better than would be expected with [conventional cadaveric] transplantation," he says.

Of the 92 patients who underwent living donor liver transplantation at the University of Rochester in 2001-2002, more than 90% survived past six months, and more than 85% of the transplant recipients did not suffer severe complications from the transplant.

Nearly half of the patients received the liver from their children, nearly one-third from siblings, and 2% from a second-degree relative, he says. The rest were donated from spouses and friends, which, because they do not share the same genetics, have a greater change of being rejected by the body.

But the study showed that overall, there were fewer cases in which the patient rejected the donated organ than would be expected with the conventional procedure. "All were successfully treated with no major adverse outcomes," he says.

Karen Woods, MD, clinical associate professor of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, predicts we'll be seeing more and more of these procedures.

"If the procedure proves to be as successful as this study suggests, with a lower complication rate than [conventional] transplantation, this could be an enormous advantage for patients on the waiting list," says Woods.

Woods tells WebMD that as a practicing gastroenterologist, she has patients who continue to suffer for several years while awaiting a donor. "They're anxious, their families are anxious, they want to get on with their lives. The opportunity to have a living donor would be welcome if it is indeed as safe as this study suggests."

Despite their optimism, both Woods and Mantry caution that the jury won't be completely in until more patients are watched for even longer periods of time.

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