Success leads to more liver transplants

By Zhang Kun and Zheng Yijia (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-08-15 07:12

SHANGHAI: More than 10,000 people received liver transplants in China between March 2005 and May 2007.

Most of the patients' information is registered with the China Liver Transplant Registration (CLTR) system. Several of Shanghai's more reputable hospitals, including Renji Hospital, Zhongshan Hospital and Ruijin Hospital, are participating in the system.

The CLTR statistics showed that the one-year survival rate for people who have undergone a liver transplant has doubled in recent years.

From 2003 to 2006, 84 percent of such patients survived for more than a year. And the three-year survival rate increased to about 75 percent in 2006 from 37 percent in 2003.

"This shows China's surgery skills and follow-up treatments have reached a high level," experts said at the 2007 Forum on Liver Disease and Transplant, which took place recently at Renji Hospital.

About a decade ago, many patients who had undergone liver transplants died from infections or because their bodies had rejected the transplanted organs. Today, such patients are more likely to die of other diseases, such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, diabetes and so on.

"Given these changes, we surgeons should work more closely with physicians on medical supervision and follow-up treatments after a transplant," Dr Xia Qiang from Renji Hospital said.

About 1.5 million people suffer from organ failures and need transplants every year, according to statistics from a recent conference promoting live organ transplants between families that had been organized by Roche Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

Only 10,000 of the 1.5 million receive organ transplants every year, and about half of them are kidney transplants. Many others die waiting for an available organ.

In China, no more than 4 percent of organ transplants are between relatives. In Western countries the ratio is 30 percent.

Doctors from hospitals that are well known for carrying out organ transplants said such procedures should involve family members because of such advantages as a "high success rate, good clinical effects and low cost".

(China Daily 08/15/2007 page4)

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