Friday, May 07, 2010
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A unique and creative surgery has resulted in second chances for two Arizona women in critical need of a liver transplant.
Called a "domino transplant," it begins with one deceased donor, whose family makes the generous decision to donate their loved one's organs.
In the transfer of organs, which took place at Mayo Clinic Hospital, the liver from the deceased donor was implanted into a 52-year-old Flagstaff woman who will benefit from a new liver because of a rare genetic condition called amyloidosis. The condition causes the body to gradually build up an abnormal protein that can damage the heart, tissues and nerves over a period of 30 to 40 years. Remarkably, a new liver can delay the progression of the protein and potential damage to other organs and systems in the body.
That patient's liver was in turn transplanted into a 70-year-old Flagstaff woman who needed a new liver because of liver disease.
In the domino transplant procedure, rare because of the unique set of medical circumstances that must occur, the liver from the patient with amyloidosis is normal and won't build up the abnormal protein to cause medical issues for 30 to 40 years, which is why the recipient is typically older.
The creative juggling of livers is credited with enhancing the lives of the two women who had not known each other before the surgeries that took place in March. The surgery was only the second domino transplant to take place in Arizona's history. The first, in February 2003, also took place at Mayo Clinic Hospital when a 43-year-old Phoenix man with amyloidosis donated a liver to a 64-year-old Gilbert man who had a bile duct disease that had damaged his liver.
The Gilbert man, now 71, is healthy, energetic and continues to run his own business and to enjoy golfing. He is also a frequent guest at Mayo's annual reunion of transplant patients.
Domino transplants remains a fairly uncommon procedure, with the International Domino Liver Transplant Registry, as of 2009, reporting only 34 such procedures to date in the U.S. and just over 700 worldwide.
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