Jefferson U. establishes live-donor liver transplant program

    Thomas Jefferson University is expanding its organ transplant program. The hospital now offers liver transplant surgery from a living donor.

    Thomas Jefferson University is expanding its organ transplant program. The hospital now offers liver transplant surgery from a living donor.

    Transplant surgeon Cataldo Doria says, in general, when you’re waiting for a liver from a deceased donor, the sicker you are, the shorter the wait.

    But if you live in Philadelphia, where there are five transplant centers and many patients waiting, you can be very sick, but not sick enough to get a organ quickly.

    Doria: So that patient will languish on the waiting list for many years without being transplanted, that is the classical example of a patient that might benefit from live donor liver transplantation.

    Surgeons take just a portion of the donor’s liver, and the organ regenerates to its pre-surgery size within two to three weeks.

    Doria says living donors don’t have any long-term health restrictions, but they should be monitored for life. Donors can be away from work and other everyday activities for up to six weeks.

    Ursula Hobbs provides education at Jefferson to help potential donors weigh the decision.

    Hobbs: We like them to know that sometimes it does affect the relationships of the person that they are donating to. That can be in a positive or a negative way. We let people know that it’s OK to be worried, to be afraid, and that’s why the work-up for living donors is something that isn’t rushed.

    Hobbs says it’s a big step – and an altruistic act – for a healthy person to donate part of their liver and undergo major surgery.

    Jefferson joins Penn Medicine, which was the first in the region to have a live-donor liver transplant program.

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