'Centurion Livers' May Shift Thinking on Donors

Transplanted organ can function for decades, suggesting accepting older donors should be encouraged
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2022 2:46 PM CDT
Updated Oct 23, 2022 9:00 AM CDT
New Research May Shift Thinking on Liver Donors
Transplanted livers have the potential to last for decades.   (Getty/Sam Edwards)

A new study into transplanted livers finds that the organs can continue functioning for a long time in a new recipient—sometimes for a combined total of more than 100 years between the donor and patient. The takeaway from the research is that hospitals shouldn't be too quick to reject a liver from an older donor, reports New Scientist. Researchers used data from the United Network for Organ Sharing to assess more than 250,000 transplanted livers and discovered that 25 of them were still working after 100 years in total, per Smithsonian. The average donor age of these "centurion livers" was 84.7 years, compared to 38.5 for the rest, and all had continued functioning for at least a decade. By contrast, only 60% of younger livers lasted that long after being transplanted.

"We previously tended to shy away from using livers from older donors," said study co-author Dr. Christine Hwang of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. "If we can sort out what is special amongst these donors, we could potentially get more available livers to be transplanted and have good outcomes," she added, per UPI. A scientist not affiliated with the work agrees. The study is important because it shows that "good-quality donor livers that are older can go on to do very well in their new recipients,” says Patricia Lalor of the UK's University of Birmingham. The findings were presented this month at the American College of Surgeons meeting in San Diego. (More liver transplants stories.)

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