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Asan Medical Center makes history in liver transplantation - Seven thousand liver transplantations

December 2,2020

Seven thousand liver transplantations performed since 1992 with 98% success rate


AMC set a world record of 7,000 liver transplantations as the liver transplantation team successfully performed a living-donor liver transplantation(LDLT) on July 17, 2020; Mrs. Lim (female, 67) who suffered from primary biliary cirrhosis received part of her son’s liver.

Over the years, AMC’s liver transplantation team has developed diverse surgical techniques, widening the scope of donors and recipients. They performed more than 300 liver transplantation surgeries a year for eight years between 2007 and 2014; more than 400 a year between 2015 and 2018; and 505 a year in 2019, which is a world record. The success rate is also astounding with 98%(1-year), 89%(3-year), and 88%(10-year), and the same is significantly higher than that of the U.S. with 91%(1-year), 84%(3-year), and 76%(5-year).

AMC has made history through endless challenges by becoming the world’s first medical institution to perform in modified right lobe LDLT, dual graft LDLT, and ABO-incompatible liver transplantation and Korea’s first to perform pediatric LDLT, ABO-incompatible pediatric LDLT, and simultaneous liver-heart transplantation. Significantly, in January 1999, AMC developed the surgical technique of modified right lobe LDLT for the first time in the world, increasing the number of LDLTs done a year to more than 100 from about 30. The success rate has also significantly improved from 70% to over 95%.

In March 2000, Professor Lee, Sung-Gyu of the Division of Liver Transplantation and Hepatobiliary Surgery successfully performed dual graft LDLT for the first time in the world, saving the lives of more than 560 patients with end-stage liver disease for whom conventional LDLT was not suitable since either the donors’ right-to-left hepatic lobe ratio did not meet the criteria or the recipients had serious fatty liver. The recently developed laparoscopic and minimal incision-based donor hepatectomy shortened the recovery period and minimized the size of surgical scars, contributing to enhancing donors’ quality of life.

For this reason, AMC is recognized as the best in terms of both clinical experience in and outcomes of liver transplantation. Excellent teamwork is another contributing factor. Surgeons from the divisions of Surgery, Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Radiology, Gastroenterology, and Infectious Diseases, staff of operating rooms and recovery rooms, and nurses of each ward closely communicate and cooperate with each other to save the lives of patients with end-stage liver disease.

Unit Manager Song Yoo-gil of the Intensive Care Nursing Team said, “We as the team are always working hard to provide best nursing services to facilitate the recovery of patients. Appreciating donors’ sacrifice to turn someone’s despair into hope, we will work together to make sure their good deeds bear fruits.”

Professor Lee, Sung-Gyu said, “The achievement of 7,000 liver transplantations owes to all our team members’ dedication and cooperation in treatment from fast diagnosis to rapid response to standardized and systematic surgery to postoperative intensive care.”

Many medical specialists from around the world visit AMC to learn liver transplantation techniques. The Asan Medical International (AMI) analyzed overseas medical professionals who visited AMC for training in the last ten years between 2010 and 2019 and found that 662 surgeons were trained in the Division of Liver Transplantation and Hepatobiliary Surgery. Since 2009, we have transferred liver transplantation skills to countries with a high mortality of end-stage liver disease such as Mongolia and Vietnam. Since 2015, the National Central Hospital of Mongolia has successfully performed a total of 65 liver transplantation surgeries by themselves. Vietnam’s Cho Ray Hospital and the University Medical Center of Ho Chi Minh City have also successfully performed six and two liver transplantations by themselves, respectively.

AMC performed 7,000 liver transplantations for the first time in the world. The photo shows Professor Lee, Sung-Gyu of Liver Transplantation and Hepatobiliary Surgery (second from left) performing the 7,000th liver transplantation on July 17, 2020.