Best Life: New procedure to help with liver donations

Updated: Jun. 22, 2020 at 6:36 AM CDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) --- Almost 115,000 people are on the transplant waiting list. Most of them need a kidney or liver. On average, a patient can wait 239 days for a match— if they’re lucky!

Statistics show about 3,000 people on that list die each year waiting to receive a liver. Now, a new, less invasive transplant may help bring those numbers down and save more lives.

Abraham and Nikko both love cards. And they both love the same girl.

“She loves her dad,” admired liver donor Nikko Velazquez.

Shiri is Abraham’s daughter and Nikko’s girlfriend. It’s because of that relationship Abraham is alive today.

“Who knows how many more months we would have had,” explained Nikko.

Diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver.

“I never drink. Not even a sip,” revealed liver recipient Abraham Aviv.

Abraham’s liver was shutting down. He needed a transplant. That’s when Nikko stepped up.

Nikko became the first donor at the Cleveland Clinic to have a living donor laparoscopic liver resection.

Unlike open surgery that requires a 15-inch incision, the laparoscopic procedure is done through half-inch holes in the abdomen.

“The whole process is done almost exactly the same as an open surgery, but under scope and with laparoscopic instruments,” elaborated Choon Hyuck David Kwon, MD, Ph.D., director of laparoscopic liver surgery at Cleveland Clinic.

The dissected piece of liver is removed through an incision below the belly button.

“The graph it takes about, it’s around the size of two of two of your fists,” illustrated Dr. Kwon.

Within hours, a piece of Nikko’s liver replaced Abraham’s damaged one.

This technique leaves the donor with less recovery time than traditional surgery. As well as a long list of other benefits, as far as Nikko’s liver.

“The first month it grows really, really fast and reaches around 80 percent of its original size,” clarified Dr. Kwon.

Today, Abraham and Nikko are fully recovered. Now, the two have even more in common and are back to their usual games.

Five percent of people who undergo a liver transplant receive the organ from a living donor. The liver is the only organ that can regenerate. It takes six to eight weeks for a healthy liver to grow back to its original size.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Marsha Lewis, Field Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Matt Goldschmidt, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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