One liver saves two lives; Lafayette baby, 70-year-old woman

Ochsner Health System
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POSTED: Friday, December 20, 2013 - 12:06pm

UPDATED: Friday, December 20, 2013 - 6:30pm

Two patients, a woman from California and a 1-year-old boy from Lafayette, were both saved with one liver.

How’s that possible?

It’s called a split liver transplant, an advanced procedure where the liver from a deceased adult is literally divided into two pieces and transplanted into two patients.

Mathew, the 1-year-old Lafayette boy, was born with biliary atresia. It’s a condition in which the bile ducts do not form during fetal development, which causes the liver to malfunction. Mathew had made frequent hospital visits since birth and was in desperate need of a liver transplant.

Karen Torrey, the 70-year-old woman from Redlands, California suffered from an auto-immune disease which severely damaged her liver and kidneys.

Both patients were referred to the Ochsner Mulit-Organ Transplant Institute in New Orleans. The institute is currently named the number one liver transplant program in the country by CareChex. This is the second year in a row it’s had that ranking.

Mathew and Karen were just two of more than 17,000 patients in the U.S. on the liver transplant waiting list.

On November 11, 2013, both families received the long awaited call. One liver was available and both Karen and Matthew were a perfect match.

Doctors decided that they would save both lives by performing the split liver transplant. The procedure was originally developed for operating on two pediatric patients, but is now being used to also help one adult and one child patient.

Mathew received the smaller left lobe, while Karen received the larger right lobe.

A month after surgery, both patients are recovering well, and both will be home for the holidays. 

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