According to a recent study, US researchers have found that the liver can stay functional for over 100 years. The researchers from the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, and TransMedics, Andover, Massachusetts noted that there is a small, but growing part of livers that has been transplanted and has an overall age of over 100 years. To conduct the study, researchers examined the livers to know about the characteristics to see why livers are resilient, opening the gates for considering the potential use of older liver donors.
Lead study author Yash Kadakia, a medical student at UT Southwestern Medical School, said, "We looked at pre-transplant survival--essentially, the donor's age--as well as how long the liver went on to survive in the recipient. We stratified out these remarkable livers with over 100-year survival and identified donor factors, recipient factors, and transplant factors involved in creating this unique combination where the liver was able to live to 100 years."
The average donor age of centurion livers was quite higher, 84.7 years as compared to 38.5 years for non-centurion liver transplants. The researchers concluded that for a liver to make it to 100 years, they should be of an older average donor age and healthier donors. Moreover, the donors from the centurion group had a reduced risk of diabetes and lesser donor infections.
Study co-author Christine S. Hwang, MD, FACS, associate professor of surgery, UT Southwestern Medical Center, said, "We previously tended to shy away from using livers from older donors. 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."
"The existence of allografts over 100 years old is revealing of the dramatic resilience of the liver to senescent events," the study authors said. Mr. Kadakia added, "Livers are incredibly resilient organs. We're using older donors, we have better surgical techniques, we have advances in immunosuppression, and we have better matching of donor and recipient factors. All these things allow us to have better outcomes."