Liver transplantation in children from living related donors: Surgical techniques and results

Christoph E. Broelsch*, Peter F. Whitington, Jean C. Emond, Thomas G. Heffron, J. Richard Thistlethwaite, Larry Stevens, James Piper, Susan H. Whitington, J. Lance Lichtor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

657 Scopus citations


Pediatric liver transplantation with reduced size donor organs (RLT) has evolved into a standard clinical procedure increasing the choices of recipients for their treatment. Nevertheless organ availability remains a major problem. The authors therefore have proposed to study the use of hepatic segments from living related donors (LRT) in a group of 20 children less than 2 years of age or weighing less than 15 kg, in whom standard indications for transplantation existed. Volunteer related donors were selected after medical and psychiatric evaluations, and the suitability of the donor's liver was established by functional and radiologic criteria. A two-stage informed consent process assured appropriate 'volunteerism.' Nineteen infants received LRT as first grafts and one as a second graft. Seventeen of the recipients are alive 3 to 18 months after LRT. Fifteen of 20 patients are currently at home with the original graft and normal liver function (bilirubin < 1.5 mg/dl) after a median hospital stay of 27 days (range, 14-93 days). Four patients underwent retransplantation, in all cases due to arterial thrombosis. The overall graft survival for 20 primary LRTs is 75%, with follow-up between 3 and 18 months. A number of technical problems occurred during our initial trial, the most aggravating being vascular thrombosis. Refined approaches to vascular reconstruction should reduce the incidence of thrombosis and improve the rate of survival in future cases. The donor group for the initial 20 LRT procedures comprised 12 mothers, 7 fathers, and 1 grandmother. In addition one father and one uncle, who was an identical twin of the recipient's father, who did not qualify for anatomic reasons, were used in repeat LRT. All donors survived and are now in normal health between 3 and 18 months after LRT, having returned to all activities enjoyed before donation. The median hospital stay was 6 days (range, 5-14). Complications were minimal, and all were limited to the first three procedures, in which a full left hepatectomy was performed. After alteration of the procedure into a left lateral segmentectomy, no complications were encountered. The left lateral segmentectomy presents minimal surgical trauma to the liver and should remain the primary approach for obtaining a liver graft from a living donor. For children, transplantation of a left lateral segment from a live donor provides a new way of providing a transplant of appropriate size and with good function. The success of this program has led to the acceptance of LRT for general clinical application in the authors' institution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)428-439
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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