Prompt liver transplant boosts survival in heavy drinkers

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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.

For the new study, physician Philippe Mathurin of the Claude Huriez Hospital in Lille, France, and his colleagues chose 26 patients to get a liver transplant within a few weeks of being diagnosed with alcoholic hepatitis. The patients had failed to respond to medication such as steroids, the typical treatment for the condition. The researchers also monitored 26 similar patients who didn?t receive transplants.

Six months after surgery, six of the 26 transplant patients had died, compared with 20 of the 26 who didn?t get a liver transplant.

These findings challenge the notion that transplant eligibility for all alcoholism-related liver patients must be linked to a prescribed abstinence period.

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