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Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Liver transplant makes history at Strong

Strong Memorial Hospital has made history again. The first adult-to-adult, living-related liver transplant in Upstate New York was performed on July 25 at Strong. Laura Hawes, 21, of Lockport donated a portion of her liver to her mother, Karen Fritton, 42, also of Lockport. Fritton was diagnosed with hepatitis C last year and was on a waiting list for a new liver. Both women were discharged from the hospital on August 1 and are doing well.

Living-related transplantation allows a family member or close friend to donate a portion of his or her liver, if found to be compatible, to the patient. During the eight- to 12-hour operation, surgeons remove 60 percent of the donor's liver. That portion of the organ replaces the recipient's damaged liver.

Both livers experience regeneration, growing to normal size and function within weeks. The liver, the largest organ in the human body, is the only one that can regenerate. The first living-related liver transplant in Upstate New York was performed at Strong in February 1999. Robert Warner, 28, of Binghamton donated a portion of his liver to his six-month-old daughter, Savannah, who was born with a rare congenital defect known as biliary atresia.

Transplanting a portion of a living-related liver from one adult to another is more difficult than transplanting a portion of an adult liver to a child because surgeons must sever and connect more bile ducts and arteries.

Leading the transplant team were surgeons Luis Mieles, Mark Orloff, and Amadeo Marcos, who joined Strong's transplant team this summer. Marcos has performed more than 50 adult-to-adult, living-related liver transplants during his career, more than anyone in the United States. He was recruited from the Medical College of Virginia, where he pioneered the procedure.

Traditional transplantation, which requires a compatible donor liver, can mean a patient is on a waiting list for 250 days or more, depending on their blood type. There are about 200 patients on the waiting list in the Finger Lakes region. Because only 30 percent of potential living-related donors are compatible with a patient in need of a new liver, traditional donor organs are still an important part of saving lives.

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