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Two receive liver transplants from single brain-dead donor in Vietnam’s first-of-its-kind surgery

Saturday, March 16, 2019, 10:08 GMT+7
Two receive liver transplants from single brain-dead donor in Vietnam’s first-of-its-kind surgery
Doctors talk to a liver transplant recipient in this photo illustration.

Doctors have for the first time in Vietnam successfully performed liver transplants on two patients, including a nine-year-old child, using liver from a single brain-dead donor.

The landmark operations were performed on March 9 by doctors at Viet Duc (Vietnam-Germany) Hospital in Hanoi, hospital director Tran Binh Giang said at a press conference on Friday.

The organ donor was a 30-year-old man who had been pronounced brain-dead on March 8 after an accident that left him with severe brain injury the day before, Giang said.

His organs - two kidneys, a heart, and a liver - were used in transplants on five patients, including a 49-year-old man with liver cancer and a nine-year-old girl suffering from liver failure and hepatic coma.

All five transplants were performed at Viet Duc Hospital on March 9.

Though liver transplants have been done in Vietnam for nearly 20 years, this was the first time a liver from a single brain-dead donor had been used in transplants on two patients, Giang said.

The donated liver was split into two parts after doctors removed it from the brain-dead man.

All five recipients of the donor’s organs are recovering well nearly a week following their respective surgeries, Giang said.

It was also the first time a liver from a brain-dead donor had been used for transplantation on a minor patient, according to a representative from the National Children Hospital who was present at Friday’s press conference.

Doctors noted that the middle-aged liver recipient was strong enough to be discharged from the intensive care unit (ICU) on Friday, whereas liver functions of the minor recipient are also recovering fast as doctors expect to discharge her from ICU this weekend.

Before the transplant, the girl had less than a ten-percent chance of survival due to her critical condition, according to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Quang Nghia, director of Viet Duc Hospital’s organ transplantation center.

Viet Duc Hospital is one of the leading surgical hospitals in Vietnam and a pioneer in liver transplantation, having performed the country’s first successful adult liver transplant in November 2007.

It has performed 62 successful liver transplants so far, accounting for more than half of Vietnam’s surgeries of this kind.

The world’s first successful liver transplant was done in the U.S. in 1967, and it took doctors well another two decades to perform the first successful split liver transplant.

Split liver transplantation, while efficient in the respect that a single donor’s liver can be used on two recipients, is an extremely complicated technique that requires three teams of skilled surgeons to operate at the same time, according to Giang.

Only one percent of all liver transplants in the U.S. are split liver transplants, while the figure in Europe is six percent.

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