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Liver Transplantation


The University of Heidelberg Hospital and Organ Transplantation


Organ transplantation is a main area of focus and a specialty of the University of Heidelberg Hospital. 1825 kidney transplantations have been performed since 1967. Programs for liver transplantation (since 1987), heart transplantation (since 1989), lung transplantation (since 1996), and pancreas transplantation (since 1992) have followed. Up to now 503 liver transplantations, 282 heart transplantations, 7 lung transplantations, and 11 pancreas transplantations have been performed. These activities are complemented by several basic scientific research groups. The special research section "immune tolerance" is working on the development of new strategies for the prevention of rejection of the foreign organ. In our institute for immunology, information and data of the world largest study ("Collaborative Transplant Study"), are collected and evaluated. This data analyses long term transplantation results.


Transplantation Centre Heidelberg

Heidelberg is one of the largest transplantation centres in the nation. Despite the transplantation law of 1997, the number of organ donors has not significantly increased. As in the past, about 30% of the patients in need of a transplantation die while waiting for a life-saving organ such as a liver or heart.


In various weekly liver consultation during the week patients with serious liver diseases consult us. A team of specialists, consisting of an internist and a surgeon, discuss and make decisions with the patient about the possibilities of a liver transplantation. If transplantation is indicated, the patient is cared for during the approx. 12 month waiting period, with further consultations on Thursdays in cooperation with the patient's family doctor


Liver Transplantation

The first successful liver transplantation performed on a human was performed by T.E. Starzi in 1963. Due to the improvements of surgical techniques and post operative care, as well as advancements in organ preservation, the development of immunosuppressants, and defined indication criteria, liver transplantation has become the first choice, for a large number of advanced/terminal stage liver diseases.

Immediately after the transplantation, the patients are brought to the central intensive care unit, where they are cared for together with the anaesthetist. Each patient is also treated by the internist and daily consultations (rounds) are made by both the clinic for surgery and the clinic for general medicine.


Living Related Liver Donation


Despite all efforts to increase the number of transplantations, it can be assumed that in the near future there will not be enough organs donated by the deceased. Since 1967, there as been, in kidney transplantation, the alternative of a healthy person donating one of his/her kidneys without a health risk. The special anatomy and physiology of the liver enables the transplantation of half a liver from a healthy person. The remaining part of the liver grows back to its full size in both the donor and recipient. A major advantage of live liver donation is the availability of the transplant, enabling an optimum planning for the surgery. Live liver transplantation requires especially careful preparations, as the risk is higher for a liver donor than for a kidney donor. At the University of Heidelberg Hospitals first live liver donation was performed in September 2002 and was successful.



More information can be found on the website of the Transplantation Centre Heidelberg.