COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Comprehensive Transplant Center has performed its first living donor liver transplant surgery. The addition of living liver transplant services gives adults with end-stage liver disease an ideal option to improve their health and reduce their time on the transplant waitlist, while remaining in central Ohio.

“Ohio State has one of the largest and most impressive transplant programs in the country,” said David McQuaid, chief executive officer of The Ohio State University Health System. “We performed the first liver transplant in Ohio in 1984 and continue to innovate as the first center in Central Ohio to offer living liver transplants.”

In a living liver donation, a portion of a healthy donor’s liver is transplanted into the recipient, after the removal of the diseased liver. The donor and recipient surgeries are carried out simultaneously in different operating rooms so organ preservation and transportation time aren’t factors. Since the liver has the ability to regenerate, the livers in the donor and recipient grow back to 85 to 90 percent of the original size and regain full function within six to eight weeks.

“Thanks to the strong leadership of Dr. Ken Washburn and our team of physicians, nurses and staff, Ohio State’s liver transplant program has experienced substantial growth over the past four years,” said Dr. K. Craig Kent, dean of The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “The addition of living liver transplant surgery expands our capabilities, allowing us to save more lives and be a differentiator among transplant centers.”

Dr. Ken Washburn, executive director of the Comprehensive Transplant Center and director of the Division of Transplantation, said, “This is an important step forward to provide patients with advanced liver disease another treatment option that can save their lives. Nationally, approximately 3 percent of all liver transplants are from a living donor.”

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, there are 114,000 people waiting for a transplant and, of those, more than 13,700 are in need of a liver. At any given time, there are 80 patients in Ohio State’s transplant program waiting for a liver transplant. Patients who receive a living donor liver transplant reduce their wait time for transplantation. Other benefits include:

The transplanted liver is working in the recipient soon after it’s removed from the donor and implanted.
Living donation surgeries can be scheduled in advance, which allows procedures to be performed under the best circumstances for the patient and donor.
The entire health history of a living donor is known and verifiable.

“Living liver donation gives the advantage of minimizing waitlist time and offers the opportunity to transplant patients before they get too sick,” said Dr. Sylvester Black, Ohio State liver transplant surgeon.

Following surgery, donors are usually in the hospital for five to seven days and resume normal activity within two months.

As central Ohio’s only adult transplant center, Ohio State’s Comprehensive Transplant Center has performed more than 9,500 lifesaving transplant surgeries during the past 50 years, including more than 1,000 liver transplants. It also recently performed its 500th heart transplant.