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Asan Medical Center sets a milestone in donor liver transplant

Asan Medical Center sets a milestone in donor liver transplant

Posted August. 09, 2018 07:27,   

Updated August. 09, 2018 07:27


Asan Medical Center in Seoul achieved two remarkable feats on Wednesday by successfully performing a dual-lobe liver transplant surgery to a late-stage cirrhosis patient surnamed Yang (46). The liver was donated by the patient’s older brother (49) and his older sister (47). After a 15-hour surgery, Mr. Yang has been given a new life, receiving the left lobe of liver from his brother and the right lobe of liver from his sister.

Asan Medical Center was the first in Korea to attempt liver transplantation, which is known to be the only and standard treatment to cure patients with late-stage liver diseases. After 24 years since its first attempt, the medical center has set a milestone in the global medical circle.

A dual-lobe liver transplant is a rare kind of surgery, which a patient with late-stage liver diseases receives liver from two donors in case he or she cannot find a matching liver from donor. In the past, a fatty liver or a liver that is much smaller than that of recipient was considered unsuitable for transplantation, but a dual-lobe liver transplant technique has addressed these problems.

Asan Medical Center has the lowest cases of side effects from the surgery. It has the one-year survival rate of 97 percent and the five-year survival rate of 87 percent on average. Out of 5,500 liver donors, not a single has died or suffered severe complications, according to the medical center. In the United States, the one-year survival rate of liver transplant recipients is 87 percent and the five-year survival rate is 70 percent on average. The introduction of laparoscopy in recent years has enabled liver donors to have small incisions.

“Our determination and passion to save the lives of patients with late-stage liver diseases has made this achievement possible,” said Lee Seung-kyu, professor of Hepatobiliary Surgery Department at Asan Medical Center. “As a global powerhouse of liver disease treatment, we will do our best to teach medical scientists from abroad our liver transplantation technique.”

In fact, over 1,500 medical scientists from 20 countries, such as the United States, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, Spain, Italia, Japan, and China have come to the Asan Medical Center in the past three years to learn liver transplantation from Professor Lee and his team. The medical center has performed a total of 6,023 liver transplant surgeries, including the 1,023 cases that donor was a brain-dead patient.

Jin-Han Lee likeday@donga.com