July 3, 2008

Split Transplants May Help Organ Shortages

Italian medical scientists say they are trying to determine whether split liver transplantation reliably yields grafts that can help two adults.

The shortage of donor organs has led to advanced surgical strategies to increase opportunities for those in need of a transplant, the scientists said. An example is the split liver transplant, or SLT, in which one donated liver is divided into the larger right hemisphere and the smaller left hemisphere, with the two halves transplanted into different patients -- typically one adult and one child.

Researchers led by Alessandro Giacomoni of Niguarda Hospital in Milan, Italy, report on 16 SLTs with adult recipients. The scientists say they found a discouraging rate of complications, and a one-year survival rate of only 69 percent.

In another study, researchers led by Nigel Heaton of London note a lack of cadaveric donations has led doctors to pioneer the simultaneous adult transplantation of two left liver sections from living donors. The technique is practicable and has been associated with good outcome, they report.

Both reports are detailed in the journal Liver Transplantation.