Split Liver Transplants Helping To Close The Organ Donor Gap
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Every year more than 6,000 liver transplants are performed in the United States, but that's less than half of the number of patients waiting for a transplant.
The odds are stacked even higher against you if you're a child waiting for a liver that's your size. An increasingly popular procedure offers some of the smallest transplant patients a new lease on life.
The liver is the only organ in the human body that can regenerate itself. This unique trait lead to a procedure that's not only benefitting children in need, but also saving multiple lives with one donation.
1-year-old Jadysson was born with biliary atresia, the bile ducts in her liver and her gallbladder never formed.
In infants, it's the most common cause of cirrhosis; for many, the only cure is a liver transplant. Because most babies do not become organ donors, finding a size matched liver is very difficult.
That's why an increasingly popular procedure called split liver transplant is giving children a new option.
Dr. Jeffrey Fair is baby Jadysson's transplant surgeon at UF Health. He explains this procedure divides the liver into two functional pieces, about 20% of the liver in the the left lobe, and the remaining 80% in the right.
"The baby gets the right sized piece to fit in their body and heal in, and the adult gets a normal liver minus this 20 percent piece, and the liver will regenerate if they need that 20 percent," Fair says.
Organ transplantation is still a risky procedure, with a split liver you risk bile leakage and other side effects that come with transplantation.
But the treatment is being viewed with optimism as a way to close the waiting list gap, potentially saving two lives with every liver healthy enough to undergo this procedure.
Now, with a successful transplant complete in November of last year, Jadysson is on the road to a healthy life.
The other portion of the liver given to Jadysson was implanted in an adult male, who is now also on the road to recovery.
Dr. Fair says this is a good reminder of just how important organ donation can be, and reminds you should always make close friends and family aware of your choice to become an organ donor.
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