Major challenges limiting liver transplantation in the United States

J. A. Wertheim, H. Petrowsky, S. Saab, J. W. Kupiec-Weglinski, R. W. Busuttil

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


Liver transplantation is the gold standard of care in patients with end-stage liver disease and those with tumors of hepatic origin in the setting of liver dysfunction. From 1988 to 2009, liver transplantation in the United States grew 3.7-fold from 1713 to 6320 transplants annually. The expansion of liver transplantation is chiefly driven by scientific breakthroughs that have extended patient and graft survival well beyond those expected 50 years ago. The success of liver transplantation is now its primary obstacle, as the pool of donor livers fails to keep pace with the growing number of patients added to the national liver transplant waiting list. This review focuses on three major challenges facing liver transplantation in the United States and discusses new areas of investigation that address each issue: (1) the need for an expanded number of useable donor organs, (2) the need for improved therapies to treat recurrent hepatitis C after transplantation and (3) the need for improved detection, risk stratification based upon tumor biology and molecular inhibitors to combat hepatocellular carcinoma. The authors discuss three critical obstacles that confront the field of liver transplantation today and identify solutions that can expand organ transplantation and improve care for a population in need.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1773-1784
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Transplantation
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Donation after cardiac death
  • donor organ shortage
  • extended criteria donor
  • hepatitis C
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • liver transplantation
  • living donor liver transplantation
  • split liver transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Transplantation
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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