Living Donor Program at UPMC

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- There are between 14,000 and 17,000 people currently on the waiting list for a liver transplant. One option for those patients is a living liver donor.

UPMC Williamsport now has a living donor program.

When it comes to the health of one very important organ in our bodies, the liver, northeastern and central Pennsylvania doesn't score high marks.

"We have a substantial number of patients who have liver disease in this area who are very sick, and some of them are in need of a transplant," said Dr. Puneet Basi, a gastroenterologist/hematologist at UPMC in Williamsport.

Dr. Basi met us to talk about the hospital's new living liver donor program, something he calls necessary here.

One job of the liver is to filter the blood, and when it doesn't work properly, a host of problems can occur.

Dr. Basi says living liver donors give anywhere from 1/3 to 60 percent of their liver to the recipient. A liver can fully regenerate in eight to 10 weeks.

Dr. Swaytha Ganesh is the medical director of the living donor liver transplant program at UPMC. She travels to Williamsport from Pittsburgh once a month or more to meet with patients.

"We thought, instead of asking patients to come to us for transplant, how about bringing the world-famous legacy to them, to their courtyard, to their backyard," said Dr. Ganesh.

Dr. Ganesh says the clinic will help patients find a living donor.

The actual transplant is done at the hospital's facility in Oakland, outside Pittsburgh, but all pre- and post-transplant care is done in Williamsport. They're trying to make it as easy as possible for patients to get the care they need.

"Their management is done here, labs, consults, every other test for the transplant is done here," Dr. Ganesh explained.

"It's a great gift to give, and for the recipient, it's a blessing," added. Dr. Basi.

You don't have to be biologically related to someone to donate part of your liver.

If you'd like to look into organ donation through the UPMC system, you can get more information here.

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