Split liver is an effective tool to transplant paediatric patients

E. Porta, M. Cardillo, C. Pizzi, F. Poli, M. Scalamogna, G. Sirchia

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Transplantation activity is dependent upon organ procurement; although great efforts are made to enlarge the cadaver donors' pool, it still remains far too small to meet the recipients' need. Waiting time is a particular problem for paediatric patients, and mortality on the waiting list for liver transplantation is very high. The number of paediatric donors is far too small to satisfy the request. To enlarge the liver pool, the split-liver procedure was introduced in several Transplant Centers. In November 1997, the North Italy Transplant program (NITp) Working Group for Liver Transplantation decided to start an official Split-liver Program. A protocol was therefore defined and criteria for donor's and recipient's eligibility were established to minimize the risk. The Working Group also standardized the technical procedure and defined collaboration between centers. Out of 410 cadaver liver donors used in the NITp, from 1 November 1997 until 31 May 1999, 49 patients (37 males and 12 females) were chosen for the split-liver procedure. Mean age was 29.9 ± 17.5 years. Mean ICU stay of the donors was considerably short (2.5 ± 2.1 days), and the other conditions foreseen for donor eligibility were met. In all cases (except two) an "in situ" technique was performed. Forty-nine adult recipients and 43 children were transplanted by the split-liver technique in our Transplant Centers. One right lobe and five left liver lobes were sent to Transplant Centers outside the NITp. Adult recipient age ranged from 18 to 60 years (mean 46.4 ± 11.7 years), and the paediatric one from 2 to 144 months (mean 24.8). Mean patient follow-up was 8.3 ± 5.5 months. In the paediatric group, the graft was successful in 34 cases (79%), five patients (10.2%) died and four (9.3%) were re-transplanted. In the adult group, graft survival was 67.3%, 11 (22%) patients died and 5 (10%) were retransplanted. On 1 November 1997, 30 paediatric patients were on the liver waiting list. In the preceding 19 months, 52 patients were newly enrolled, and 36 transplants were performed. The mean waiting time of paediatric patients was 259 days (range 1-919 says). From 1 November 1997 to 31 May 1999, 61 paediatric patients were newly enrolled. In this period 70 patients were transplanted. The mean waiting time was 185 days (1-1010 days). At present, the liver waiting list includes eight paediatric patients. Split-liver transplantation is a successful procedure, effective in reducing waiting time for paediatric patients. It should be established if this may be a tool to enlarge the organ pool also for adult liver transplantation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTransplant International
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Liver transplantation
  • Paediatric transplantation waiting list
  • Split-liver

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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