Nearly a dozen hospitals across the country filed a lawsuit to try and stop the new policy but a judge ruled in UNOS’s favor. Now transplant doctors across the South and Midwest argue that they will receive fewer livers.
After two years of searching, a California man finally received a new liver during a live donor transplant earlier this year – just a week after his nephew donated his liver to another man, according to a report.
George Rogers of Fresno, Calif., was diagnosed with liver failure in November 2018 and after several failed attempts to get a new one — including from his nephew, Casey Rogers, who turned out not to be a match — he was referred to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), FOX 26 in Fresno reported.
While 95 percent of all transplants in the United States are from deceased donors, 60 percent of the procedures at the medical center in Pennsylvania are live. Notably, the liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself.
“Live donor transplant allows us to do the transplant when the patient is in a relatively healthier state and can tolerate that transplant better,” Dr. Abhi Humar, chief of transplantation at the medical center, told the station.
Humar said 15 to 25 percent of people waiting for a transplant die before they can get the organ donation they need.
George Rogers was ultimately matched with Josiah Leach, 26, who had also originally planned to donate his liver to his uncle, while Casey Rogers matched with another man, Tim Corbin, who was seeking a donor.
“This is two operations going on simultaneously,” Humar said. “In the donor, there’s removal of roughly half to 60 percent of an otherwise healthy individual’s liver.”
Casey Rogers told FOX 26 his uncle likely would have died if he had waited for a deceased donor.
“We all figured out quickly God put us in the same place at the same time with the right people,” he said.
Before his transplant, the liver failure caused George Rogers’ abdomen to swell, with as much as three gallons of fluid and made him feel constantly exhausted, he told the station.
“When I was in recovery, that early, I could feel a difference in my body,” Rogers said. “The new liver was working!”
Doctors are still monitoring George Rogers’ recovery in Pittsburgh and Casey Rogers has returned to Fresno — but both men have met with the families of the other two men — and a relative of Corbin’s now wants to be a donor.
“It’ll be a bond, a bond forever,” George Rogers told FOX 26. “It’s kind of like a gift from heaven.”