UMass program takes on high-risk liver patients other facilities won't

David Swan, who is on the liver transplant waiting list, walks from the UMass Memorial Transplant Clinic with his wife, Kathy. Swan had been told at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center that he couldn't be put on the waiting list because he had turned 70. But Lahey recommended that he consult with Dr. Isabel A. Zacharias at UMass. Photo/Chris Christo photo
TELEGRAM AND GAZETTE | Geraldine A. Collier

David Swan celebrated his 70th birthday in October 2014, not knowing that by doing so he was giving up any future chance of having the Lahey Hospital & Medical Center list him as a candidate for a liver transplant with the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS.

“They (Lahey) said they don’t do liver transplants on anyone over 70,” said the West Boylston resident who likely would have had to wait a year or two or even longer before his name came up for a transplant.

That age restriction, however, would apply only if the liver was to come from someone who had died. If Swan could find a living donor, then the surgery could go forward. (Livers can regenerate so a portion of a live donor’s liver can be transplanted into a patient and within weeks, both livers will grow in size to normal.)

Now, there had been some discussion in the family as to whether or not daughter Jaclyn would donate part of her liver to her father, but her father didn’t much like the idea. Continue reading
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