Solving Organ Shortage Paper Compares Costs of Donor-Based Liver Transplantation to Bioengineered Livers


AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Demand for liver transplants will increase 23 percent and associated costs will spike 83 percent over the next 20 years, according to a recently published paper detailing the future economics of liver transplantation. Authors of the paper developed a model to forecast demand and cost of liver transplants over the next 20 years. They then compared current-state cost data with the prospective costs of manufacturing on-demand autologous liver grafts from induced pluripotent stem cells (IPSCs), a technology that may provide a solution to the critical shortage of donor organs.

"The cost of bioengineering replacement liver segments could be financially feasible in the not too distant future"

Liver transplantation is the definitive treatment for end-stage liver disease, but of the roughly 16,000 individuals on the U.S. transplant waiting list, only 38 percent will actually receive a transplant due to the scarcity of donor organs. The organ shortfall is predicted to rise in upcoming decades given a surge in fatty liver disease and other factors.

"The waiting list gauges only a fraction of the true need," said Dr. Ronald Landes, one of the paper’s authors and president of the nonprofit Solving Organ Shortage. "Thousands more could benefit from a transplant but can’t access the curative therapy because they haven’t reached critical status."

Greater availability of livers for transplantation parallels an economic need to slash transplant-related medical costs. Using today’s donor-based system, the total weighted treatment costs of a liver transplant—including preoperative, hospital admission and postoperative phases—will increase from approximately $1.4M per patient in Year 1 (2014) of the paper’s 20-year forecast to over $2M per patient in Year 20 (2033). Continue reading