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Describe what you do.
I am Andrew Cameron and I am the Surgical Director of Liver Transplantation here at Johns Hopkins. I am one of the members of the team that takes care of patients when they come to Johns Hopkins in need of a liver transplant.
Who requires a liver transplant?
Patients that have chronic liver disease, typically Hepatitis C infection commonly, or a previous history of alcohol use, and have developed cirrhosis of the liver are the most common patients that require liver transplant. There are other conditions less commonly that require a liver transplant: Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) or Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC) are two others, and those patients represent the majority of patients that we see who need a liver transplant.
What makes someone a good candidate for a liver transplant?
Any patient that needs a liver transplant – any patient that will die without a liver transplant – is a candidate for surgery at Johns Hopkins. We as a group look very carefully at any and all patients that are sent to us, and only those that have no chance of surviving the surgical procedure are not candidates for liver transplant here.
Can a patient with liver cancer get a liver transplant?
Patients with liver cancer are eligible for liver transplantation. In fact, they are some of the best candidates for liver transplant. UNOS [United Network for Organ Sharing] gives our patients with liver cancer priority to the top of the list to get their transplant before the liver cancer spreads.
Where do donor livers come from?
There are 7,000 liver transplants done annually in the United States, and most of those donors are cadaveric donors. So when a patient dies, often in another hospital, and their family wishes to donate a liver, we’ll go and procure that organ for one of the patients on our list. Far less commonly, a patient may have a living donor – a member of their family or a friend – who wishes to donate part of their liver. That is done more commonly for adults donating to children, less commonly when an adult donates to another adult.
What is the average age of liver transplant patients?
We have transplanted adult patients at Johns Hopkins from age 18 to age 70, so there’s no specific age preclusion, but most of our patients tend to be around 50 years old.