Transplanting partial livers from deceased teen and adult donors to infants
is less risky than in the past and helps save lives, according to a new
The risk of organ failure and death among infants who receive a partial liver
transplant is now comparable to that of infants who receive whole livers,
according to the study, which was published online in the June issue of the
journal Liver Transplantation.
Size-matched livers for infants are in short supply and the use of partial
grafts from deceased donors now accounts for almost one-third of liver
transplants in children, the researchers said.
"Infants and young children have the highest wait list mortality rates among
all candidates for liver transplant," study senior author Dr Heung Bae Kim,
director of the Pediatric Transplant Center at Boston Children's Hospital, said
in a journal news release.
"Extended time on the liver transplant wait list also places children at
greater risk for long-term health issues and growth delays, which is why it is
so important to look for methods that shorten the wait list time to reduce
mortality and improve quality of life for paediatric patients," Kim said.
How the study was done
For the new study, Kim and his colleagues examined data from nearly 2 700
children younger than age 2 who underwent partial liver or whole liver
transplants in the United States between 1995 and 2010.
Between 1995 and 2000, whole livers were much more likely than partial livers
to survive after transplantation into infants. But the rates became similar
between 2001 and 2010, which suggests that the use of partial livers became less
risky over time, the researchers said.
The adjusted risk of transplant failure and death was similar for partial and
whole organs between 2006 and 2010, according to the study.
There is evidence that partial organs donated from living donors are superior
to those from deceased donors, but they accounted for less than 11% of liver
transplants to children in 2010, according to the news release. Since 2002,
there has been an eight-fold increase in the use of partial livers from deceased
The Nemours Foundation has more about liver
transplants and children.