With so many men, women and children desperately awaiting a life-saving donor liver through traditional means – those donated by a deceased individual – transplant surgeons at Emory University Hospital looked for ways to improve the odds.
Recently, Emory doctors were the first in Georgia to perform a rare â€œdominoâ€ liver transplant procedure – in effect saving two lives with one donor organ. The doctors had a opportunity to discuss the procedure at a media briefing held a few days ago.
The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) says there are currently more than 16,000 Americans currently awaiting a liver transplant.
Domino liver transplant procedures are aptly named for the sequential, one-after-the-other nature of the process in which a viable liver from a deceased donor is transplanted into the first recipient, and the first recipientâ€™s organ is then transplanted into a second recipient. The procedure is still extremely unusual, with fewer than 100 done in the United States since the first in 1996.
According to Stuart Knechtle, MD, professor of surgery in the Emory School of Medicine and director of the Emory liver transplant program, domino transplants are a rare but effective way of overcoming the national shortage of organs available for transplant. In most cases of domino liver transplants, one of the donated livers is transplanted from a patient with another type of disorder that does not affect the organ recipient.
â€œThis successful domino liver transplant is something that simply does not start or end in a hospital operating room,â€ says Knechtle.
Liver recipient Bob Massie discusses his â€œmiracle.â€
Liver recipient Jean Handler discusses being â€œthankful and shocked.â€
â€œThis procedure, which saved two lives,” says Knechtle, “and will impact both families for many years to come, is the end result of a long chain of special events, starting with the decision by one person to donate the gift of life upon his untimely demise, which in turn allowed the recipient of that personâ€™s organ to then donate hers to another patient.â€
You can view the full briefing at this web site.