The Role of Apheresis Therapy in Living Donor Liver Transplantation

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Liver transplantation is a radical therapy for end-stage liver disease. The severe shortage of transplantable organs is, however, a big problem, not only in liver transplantation but also other organ transplants. Although in Japan, transplantation of organs obtained from brain-dead donors (BDD) has been allowed since October 1997, to date only 27 BDD have been obtained. It has become difficult to procure liver grafts from BDD, therefore we must use liver grafts from living donors. The living-donor liver transplantation (LDLT) program started in 1990 in Japan, and is still the major form of liver transplantation because of the scarcity of cadaveric donors. In the Department of Transplant Surgery, Kyoto Hospital (Kyoto, Japan), the accumulated number of LDLT cases exceeded 955 up to October 2003. In order to perform LDLT under safer conditions, apheresis plays a major role in Japan due to the prevalence of LDLT where later retransplantation is difficult. Clinical indications of apheresis for LDLT are mainly use as a bridge before transplantation, and liver support after transplantation. We describe the effect of apheresis therapy for LDLT patients with nephritic and hepatic problems.

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