For the first time ever, doctors saved two lives with one liver.
A team of UC San Diego doctors successfully completed the procedure on two men by “domino-ing” livers from donor to patient, and then from patient to patient.
Rafael Bolanos, 28, suffered from a metabolic disease called MMA and received a donated liver. In a simultaneous surgery, James O’Gara, 61, received Bolanos’ liver.
O’Gara will not get Bolanos’ disease, since O’Gara’s body will be able to metabolize the toxins that were affecting Bolanos’ liver, doctors said.
“I saw this as a tremendous opportunity,” said O’Gara, a real estate developer from Ramona in a statement. “The doctors did not sugarcoat the risks of receiving this organ. They explained everything and even encouraged me to seek a third-party opinion. When the call came to get the liver, I said, ‘Sign me up.’”
O’Gara, who formerly suffered a chronic liver disease, said he was feeling much better after the surgery.
Over 16,000 people are on the waitlist to receive a liver transplant, and about 15 percent will die waiting for one, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The new procedure will allow doctors to expand the number of patients who will receive livers.
The procedure was conducted at the Center for Hepatobiliary Disease and Abdominal Transplantation at UC San Diego Health System.