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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 13, Issue 3, Pages 257-263

Liver Transplantation: Past Accomplishments and Future Challenges

William J Wall

Multi-Organ Transplant Program, London Health Sciences Centre, London, Ontario, Canada

Received 18 September 1998; Accepted 21 September 1998

Copyright © 1999 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Liver transplantation has evolved from a rare and risky operation of questionable therapeutic value to the preferred treatment for an extensive list of end-stage liver diseases. Superior immunosuppression (cyclosporine), and improvements in surgery and anesthesia brought liver grafting to its current level of success. Nearly 60,000 liver transplants have been performed, and survival rates are very good; however liver grafting faces serious immediate and long term challenges, mainly due to the widening gap between donor supply and recipient demand. Increasing numbers of sick candidates, recurrent disease (especially hepatitis C) and recidivism rates after transplantation for alcoholic cirrhosis will force increasingly difficult decisions on candidate selection and priority listing of potential recipients. Although xenotransplantation may be the ultimate solution, it has its own specific set of biological and societal challenges - the full extent of which should be revealed in the next several years.