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SNUH transplants liver to UAE patient using ‘dream tech’Doctors overcame two obstacles – different blood type, surgery scar
  • By Marian Chu
  • Published 2017.03.31 15:23
  • Updated 2017.04.03 10:02
  • comments 0

A woman from the United Arab Emirates has received a new liver from a donor with different blood types in Korea and left the hospital healthy, the Seoul National University Hospital said Thursday.

Mahra Al Dhahouri, 33, who suffered from autoimmune hepatitis, had been unable to receive liver transplant operation as she could not find a donor with the same blood type, the hospital said. The donor also showed great satisfaction because SNUH introduced a laparoscopic surgery that sharply reduced the scar, it added.

Mahra required liver transplantation from a living donor and sought treatment in the UAE and Germany, but UAE’s health authorities suggested that they go to Korea for surgery.

When her husband, who initially volunteered to donate his organ, found out his liver was not suitable, he was hugely disappointed. However, upon hearing that Korean doctors can perform liver transplants with different blood types, his brother, Ali Al Dhahouri, came forth.

Both Mahra and Ali are steadfastly recovering from the successful operation, thanking the liver transplant team and UAE health authorities for their service.

Korea is a leading medical power when it comes to surgeons’ skills with one of the top liver transplantation teams in the world. SNUH said they were the first hospital worldwide to perform the 100th “pure laparoscopic living donor hepatectomy.”

Professor Lee Kwang-woong, a hepatic and transplant surgeon and associate professor of the Department of Surgery at SNUH, led the team.

“Pure laparoscopy is a brand new surgery that takes four to five hours, and requires advanced technology,” Lee told The Korea Biomedical Review. “SNUH started conducting this operation relatively later than other hospitals. However, we have now reached the 100th case.”

The surgery, despite its complexity and difficulty, is performed mainly due to its cosmetic benefits. In comparison to other liver surgeries, pure laparoscopic living donor hepatectomy leaves little to no scars due to doctors making minimal incisions in the abdomen.

Photos show the drastic difference in post-surgery scars between the ordinary laparotomy (left) and laparoscopic surgery.

“Living donor hepatectomy is very complicated in itself, and not everybody can do it,” Lee said, “However, the laparoscopic procedure is quite advanced in Korea in comparison to other Asian countries or the West due to insurance support, technological advances, and experience with liver surgery.”

The surgery takes four to five hours and requires an expert team to use a variety of 3D scopes, surgical tools, and complicated techniques for successful operation.

“Compared to other major centers in the world, we are the leading group in this procedure,” Lee said. “We have a 99-percent annual success rate.”


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