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Severely Obese Donors Raise Risks for Kids With Liver Transplant

MONDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Children who receive a liver from a severely obese adult organ donor are at greater risk for graft loss and death following their transplant surgery, according to a new study.

When the donor is a child however, researchers found body-mass index (BMI) did not increase the risk of death for children receiving a liver transplant.

The study was published in the August issue of Liver Transplantation.

"Donor BMI is associated with post-transplant obesity, but not survival rates of adult liver recipients," study author Dr. Philip Rosenthal, from the Benioff Children's Hospital of the University of California, San Francisco, explained in a journal news release. "Our study is the first to evaluate the impact of donor BMI on pediatric liver transplant recipients."

Using data collected by the United Network for Organ Sharing, the researchers examined information on 3,788 children who received a liver transplant between 2004 and 2010. They found an adult donor BMI of 25 to 35 was not linked to graft loss or death among pediatric liver recipients.

When the adult donors had a BMI greater than 35, however, the study showed the risk of graft loss and death among the children receiving livers increased. This still held true when the researchers took other transplant risk factors into account.

"While we found it common for adult donors to be overweight or obese, our analysis suggests that BMI in the 25 to 35 range should not deter liver donation," Rosenthal concluded.

Previous research has shown the number of overweight and obese adults donating livers to other adults has increased over the past 20 year, the release noted.

The study's authors said that more research is needed to understand how obesity affects children undergoing liver transplants.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on obesity.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: Liver Transplantation, news release, Aug. 1, 2012

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