August 13, 2010

Pioneering hospital halts live liver transplants

By Keith Coffman
Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:41pm EDT

DENVER (Reuters) - A Colorado hospital that pioneered liver transplants using tissue from healthy donors has suspended further surgeries of that type following two recent deaths of U.S. donors.

"We are conducting an internal review and will also have outside experts in the field do an external review," University of Colorado Hospital spokeswoman Erika Matich said on Friday. "We will make any changes or improvements if needed."

Ryan Arnold, 34, died on August 2 at the Colorado hospital days after donating a portion of his liver to his older brother, Chad, 38, who was suffering from liver failure.

Rod Arnold, another brother, told Reuters that Ryan went into cardiac arrest two days after the surgery, was resuscitated by medical personnel and placed on life support. Testing revealed he had no brain activity and he died two days later.

The University of Colorado has long been at the forefront of liver transplants. Surgeons there conducted the world's first successful cadaver transplant in the early 1960s.

The university also conducted the first successful transplant using liver tissue from a healthy donor -- a technique known as a live liver transplant -- in the United States in 1997. It has performed 141 successful live liver transplants since then, Matich said.

Arnold is the fourth donor to die in the United States following a live liver transplant operation and the second this year.

In May, a donor died at the Lahey Clinic in Massachusetts after undergoing the operation.

Rod Arnold said Chad Arnold is still recovering from the transplant, and that the family wanted people to know that it was a "natural decision" by Ryan to try and save his brother's life.

"Ryan took care of people his whole life," Rod Arnold said of his brother, who leaves behind a wife and three young sons.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Bill Trott)


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