Background. End-stage cholestatic liver disease (ESCLD) is the main indication for liver replacement in children. Pediatric cadaver-organ-donor shortage has prompted the most important evolutions in the technique of liver transplantation, in particular living-donor liver transplantation (LDLT) and split-liver transplantation (SLT). Methods. Between November 1997 and June 2001, 127 children with ESCLD were evaluated for liver transplantation, and 124 underwent 138 liver transplantations after a median time of 40 days. Causes of liver disease were congenital biliary atresia (n=96), Alagille's syndrome (n=12), Byler's disease (n=8), and other cholestatic diseases (n=8). Results. Ninety (73%) patients received a split-liver graft, 28 (23%) a whole liver, and 6 (4%) a reduced-size liver. Overall 2- and 4-year patient survival rates were 93% and 91%, respectively; the 2- and 4-year graft-survival rates were 84% and 80%, respectively. In split-liver recipients, 4-year patient and graft-survival rates were 91% and 83%, respectively; these were 93% and 78%, respectively, in whole-liver recipients and 67% and 63%, respectively, in reduced-size liver recipients. Retransplantation rate was 11%, whereas mortality rate was 8%. Overall incidence of vascular and biliary complication were 16% and 27%, respectively. Conclusions. SLT can provide liver grafts for children with ESCLD with an outcome similar to the one reported following LDLT, eliminating mortality while they are on a transplantation wait list. The need for pediatric LDLT should be reevaluated and programs of SLT strongly encouraged and supported at a national and international level.
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