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Two Prominent Nebraska Doctors Become Patients in Living Donor Liver Transplant
Date:4/15/2008

very often to save a friend's life."

Liver transplants from living donors are a relatively new medical procedure. Although kidneys have been transplanted from living donors since 1954, the first adult to adult living liver transplant didn't take place until 1997.

"The operation is becoming more common because the demand for livers far outpaces the number of organs from deceased donors," said Alan Langnas, D.O., Chief of Transplantation at The Nebraska Medical Center and Professor of Surgery at UNMC. "Living donor transplants have great potential for changing the face of liver transplantation in the future."

On Monday, March 31, two transplant teams prepped for two simultaneous surgeries at The Nebraska Medical Center. Dr. Langnas removed the diseased liver from Dr. Schaefer, while at the same time the donor's transplant surgeon, Debra Sudan, M.D., removed approximately half of Dr. Gorby's liver. Both surgeons then worked together to transplant the portion of Dr. Gorby's liver into Dr. Schaefer's body.

"The normal size for the liver is about one percent of a person's body mass," Dr. Sudan explained. "That's the target size for the transplant liver in order to optimize early liver function and its ability to regenerate."

Dr. Sudan added that the liver is unique in this trait. "The size increases as much as 100 percent in both donor and recipient, often within six to 12 weeks."

For major surgery, the risks for a liver donor are relatively low. The typical operation runs a 10 percent chance of complications and less than 1 percent chance of death, said Dr. Sudan.

Even with the risks associated with the transplant, Dr. Gorby felt the chance to help a friend outweighed the risk. "I know it's a big surgery -- it's not a hangnail," said Dr. Gorby before the transplant. "I have realistic anxiety. I expect it'll hurt, but I expect it'll go well."

For the recipient, the most serious complications are rare, but can occur i
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SOURCE The Nebraska Medical Center
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