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Four Months After Liver Transplantation: Now It’s Normal

Four Months After Liver Transplantation: Now It’s Normal

Posted July. 21, 2002 21:51,   


A patient is drawing the attention of the medical society. The patient is still healthy, without the aid of immunosuppressive agent (ISA), 3 months after the patient received two transplantations of the stem cells and liver.

The operation was first reported by Dong A Daily (on A1) on May 2, 2002. At the report, many doctors cautioned that at least three months were necessary to determine the success of the operation.

Doctor Kim Choo-soo and Professor Kim Dong-wook at the Catholic University of Korea and Professor Kim Dong-goo at the Kangnam St. Marry’s Hospital revealed on 21st, “We conducted two successive operations on Park Bok-sik (55), who was suffering from leukemia and hepatic cirrhosis. One is for transplanting the bone marrow and the other for the liver. Three months thereafter and one month after Mr. Park stopped taking the ISA, he is still healthy now.

In early January, Park received blood stem cells () in his younger sibling’s marrow. In early April, he also received a liver. From 2 weeks after the liver transplantation, he stopped taking the MMF. As of June, the ISAs were no longer provided to Park, which was given due to the bone marrow transplantation. Now, he takes none.

This surgical method is a breakthrough in transplanting organs. First, the stem cells in the bone marrow, whose components are blood and immune cells, are transplanted to synchronize the patient’s immune system with the donor’s. Then, an organ is transplanted without the attacks from the patient’s immune system.

So far, once an organ transplantation is performed, the patient has to take the ISA to trick his/her immune system into considering the planted organ as one of patient’s original ones.

With regard to the success of this operation, the first of its kind in the world, many doctors cautioned, “It will take 2-3 months to determine the success of the surgery. First of all, we do not know how the patient’s immune system will react. Second, the liver needs some time to be regenerated.”

Professor Kim Dong-wook explained, “Now, Park’s liver’s function is perfectly normally.” That translates into the fundamental solution of the reaction problem in transplanting organs, thus opening a new phase of transplantation.

Kim added, “Park’s case was first. We faced difficulty in surgery and treatment due to lack of literature. But now, this case could be applicable to cases where patients are suffering problems in the marrow and an organ.”

Professor Kook Hoon at the Cheonnam National University, a renown physician for treating leukemia, said, “This is the first medical attempt in the world of this kind. I have closely watched the whole process. If the patient is not taking any ISA now with three months lapsed since the liver transplantation, it would be safe to say it is a success.”

Park, who is now given a new life, expressed his gratitude to his medical team. He remarked, “Now I can breathe and walk. All feels like a dream.” He urged the patients suffering the similar disease(s) as his not to give up. Park wished more people would donate organs, saying, “In Korea, the awareness of leukemia and organ donation is pretty low. Thus, donors are in great demand.”

Ji-Young Chae yourcat@donga.com