Drug Addict Flown At State’s Expense For Live Liver Transplant, But Chances Slim

by Gopalan on  February 28, 2010 at 1:20 PM Organ Donation News
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 Drug Addict Flown At State’s Expense For Live Liver Transplant, But Chances Slim
A 24-year-old Australian drug addict, Claire Murray, is being flown at government expense to New Zealand for a second liver transplant.

But chances of a transplant in New Zealand  now appear slim, as doctors say she would have to meet the same criteria as she would for a donor transplant back home - drug addicts do not qualify as per the criteria.

Ms. Murray, a mother of two, has been told by doctors that she has only months to live if she does not receive a transplant now. Her previous transplant had failed when she relapsed into addiction.

West Australia's Health Minister Kim Hames said there were seven other people in WA who were waiting for their first liver transplant. He said it would be "patently unfair" for Ms Murray to jump the queue for a second liver.

Dr Hames said the State Government was prepared to pay for her and her father to travel to New Zealand so she could be considered for a "live" liver transplant. The procedure would use a piece of a liver from a living family member.

"We have offered to fly Ms Murray to New Zealand where she can be reviewed for a live person-to-person liver transplant.

"That procedure is not done anywhere in Australia, but it involves taking about a third of the liver from a willing donor, and transplanting it into the patient.

 "There are risks associated in that procedure both for the donor and the patient and there is no guarantee that Ms Murray would be suitable.

"I have a great deal of sympathy for the Murray family."
Her father Michael Murray, has said he would be willing to give her a third of his own liver, if surgeons say he is compatible.

One donor in 100 in such one-on-one transplants dies, but Mr Murray told the West Australian newspaper: "As her father I'm prepared to give my life so my daughter will live".

While the state government's gesture has raised many eyebrows, it is still some way to go for Ms. Murray. She has admitted to taking drugs after her first liver transplant last year - but has pledged to make the most of her second chance at life.

However, Professor Stephen Munn, director of Auckland City Hospital's liver transplant unit and chairman ofthe Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand's liver transplant standing committee, said Ms Murray would have to meet the same requirements as she would for a donor liver transplant. The protocols exclude patients with persistent substance abuse. "It makes no difference whether it's a deceased donor transplant or a live donor transplant - you can't bypass the normal eligibility criteria." he said.

Professor Munn said the Auckland unit did about eight live liver transplants a year. Even once the recipient had been approved for the surgery, only about one in six people were likely to be a suitable donor. They could be too old, not have compatible tissue or have an underlying medical condition.

Source: Medindia

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