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Living-Donors Make for Better Liver Transplants


Organ donation is often considered the gift of life. In most cases, once a person has passed away, if their organs are suitable and they signed a release, then they can be given to a recipient who is in need. And more times than not, that need is dire.

The reality of the situation is that supply cannot keep up with demand, and there is a long list of recipients with a dwindling amount of donors. However, in some instances, and for some transplants, the donor doesn’t have to be deceased in order to be a candidate.

What I am referring to is called a living-donor transplant, and while rare, they do come with a huge benefit: a much higher survival rate. One of the best and most successful types of donation involving a living donor is a liver donation, it is benefits has the medical world on its toes.

In 2015, there were 7,775 liver transplants performed in the United States. However, of those transplants, only 359 involved a living-donor.

The way that it works is the surgeon will replace the diseased liver with a part of the organ from another living human being Then, at one year, three years and five years after the initial transplant, are the benchmarks for survival. However, when it was a living-donor that donated the organ, the survival rates are much higher than with a deceased donor.

“The ones that are waiting (for a cadaver liver), some died while waiting, and some got sicker while waiting, so at one year, less of them are here,” said Dr. Marwan Abouljoud, Henry Ford Transplant Institute director. “That advantage is what living liver donation presents.”

This procedure, of course, comes with its own set of risks. Whenever a surgeon removes a portion of the donor’s liver, the remaining parts cells must multiply and reform. There is what is known as a portal vein that carries blood from the stomach, intestines and spleen to the liver for cleaning, and this vein splits to the two sides of the liver. But when one side of the liver is removed for transplant, blood needs to rush to the other side ignorer to nourish cells to duplicate and repair themselves.

After a transplant, and for the rest of their lives, recipients of a liver transplant need to take anti-rejection medicines, though after a three month period, the amount drops. If the patient appears to be doing well, then the operation is considered a success and one life became two.

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