Prompt liver transplant boosts survival in heavy drinkers | Science News

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Prompt liver transplant boosts survival in heavy drinkers

Some patients with organ inflammation from alcohol can benefit

By
3:11pm, November 10, 2011

Heavy drinkers who have severe liver inflammation are much more likely to survive if they get a prompt liver transplant than if they wait a few months, new research finds. Allowing some alcoholics with a potentially lethal form of liver disease to move up the waiting list for a transplant — a controversial area of transplant policy — would save lives, researchers suggest in the Nov. 10 New England Journal of Medicine.

About 10 to 15 percent of donor livers go to people whose liver disease stems directly from alcohol, says Robert Brown, a hepatologist at Columbia University in New York City who wasn’t involved in the new study. But the number is an estimate at best since many people who qualify for a transplant because of liver damage from other causes might also drink, he says.

In the United States, transplant guidelines require that alcoholics stay sober for six months before they can be placed on the waiting list for a liver tr

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