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Transplant candidates seek best quality livers, even if it means waiting longer
Date:12/1/2011

Liver transplantation candidates want to be involved in decisions regarding quality of the donor organ, and many are reluctant to accept organs with a higher risk of failure, according to research by U-M physicians and experts.

More than 42 percent of patients would choose to remain on the waiting list rather than accept a "lower quality" liver according to the study's lead author Michael L. Volk, M.D., M.S., assistant professor in U-M's Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology.

Research from Volk and his colleagues will appear in the December issue of Liver Transplantation, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

As of November 30, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) reports that 16,124 candidates are on the waiting list to receive a liver, with only 5,375 deceased donor organs recovered through August. Additionally, there is a large variation in quality of deceased donor livers, which is based on donor characteristics such as age, cause of death, and ischemia time. Previous research has shown that donor characteristics can make the difference between a 20 to 40 percent risk of graft failure by three years following transplantation.

"Organ quality is an important issue for all liver transplant candidates, increasingly so, given the aging donor pool and more frequent use of organs that carry a higher risk of failure," says Volk, who is a hepatology specialist.

"The decision to accept or pass on an organ could mean the difference between life and death for patients with end-stage liver disease. Communication of the risks versus benefits of accepting a 'lower quality' organ is critical, and understanding patient views on the subject is essential for physicians caring for transplant candidates."

For the current study, researchers tested presentation formats for communicating organ qual
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Contact: Mary Masson
mfmasson@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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