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NCC performs 800 liver transplants at very low complication rate
  • By Shim Hyun-tai
  • Published 2020.05.18 18:10
  • Updated 2020.05.18 18:10
  • comments 0

The National Cancer Center (NCC) has recently performed its 800th liver transplant since it started to do so in January 2005, the state-run institute said Monday.

More than 95 percent of the total, or 775 cases, were living-donor liver transplants where a part of the liver is removed from living people and transplanted to patients. Moreover, the NCC has continued to succeed in liver transplants from elderly donors.

Liver transplantation is the replacement of a diseased liver with a healthy liver from another person. There are two types of surgery, living or brain-dead donor liver transplantation. According to the statistics at the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among the 1,578 liver transplants in 2019, only 391 were from brain-dead donors.

Surgeons are conducting liver transplants at the National Cancer Center.

At a time when the number of patients waiting for transplants far exceeds that of donors, the living-donor operations are very helpful for patients, especially those at end-stage liver disease or hepatocellular carcinoma. As a part of the liver of a healthy donor must be resected, however, the donor's safety is the most significant factor in liver transplantation.

The NCC has established surgery-for-enhanced-recovery (SFER) protocols to improve donor safety after transplantation, it said.

As a result, the operation time fell from four hours to two-and-a-half hours, and the hospitalization period from eight to seven days.

Notably, the overall rate of complications improved significantly from 16 percent to lower than 1 percent.

Besides, NCC has achieved excellent results by selectively performing living-donor transplants from people over 60 who were excluded from donors due to safety concerns as well as those with abdominal operation records, and donors with a residual liver volume less than 30 percent.

Of the 775 healthy liver donors, 15 were 60-year-old or older, and 60 had less than 30 percent of residual liver volume.

In 2012, the successful surgery of a 76-year-old person, the world's oldest liver donor, attracted attention at home and abroad.

"The most important part of transplanting the liver of a healthy person is the donor's safety. We have always been thinking and researching to expand the operation indications of liver donors and demonstrate safety through proper surgery and post-surgical management," said Kim Seong-hoon, the head of the Organ Transplant team at NCC.

The center will play a leading role in the field of living-donor liver transplants and continue to work towards the zero-percent complications.

Seventy-five percent of those who receive liver transplant surgery at NCC are hepatocellular carcinoma patients. Therefore, the cancer center has been continuously researching to reduce the recurrence rate and increase the survival rate of hepatocellular carcinoma, which is the leading indication for liver transplantation, NCC said.

Meanwhile, the NCC has developed a program to safely and effectively perform living-donor liver transplants with incompatible blood-type and conducted 100 such operations between 2012 and this past February.


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