Media Contacts

Natalie Dicou

Communications Specialist , Office of Public Affairs
Phone: 801-587-1374

Feb 18, 2016 9:18 AM

University of Utah Health Care performed its first adult-to-adult, living-donor liver transplant Tuesday. Jason Clark, 28, donated part of his liver to his father, Lynn Clark, 57.

Robin Kim, M.D., chief of the University's Division of Transplantation and Advanced Hepatobiliary Surgery, performed the back-to-back surgeries and led a multidisciplinary team of physicians, transplant coordinators, statisticians, nutritionists, nurses, pharmacists and other professionals who coordinated to make the transplant possible.

"As an institution, we came together and invested in this complicated procedure to increase the opportunities for Utah candidates to receive life-saving organs," Kim said.

Utahns have unique disadvantages in the competitive world of organ transplantation. The state, along with California and three other neighboring states, are part of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) Region 5, which, as of November, 2015, had the longest wait list for a liver transplant of any of the 11 regions with 3,365 people in need of a liver. The next longest wait list was Region 2 with 2,282 people, and the shortest list, Region 6, had 402 people awaiting a liver transplant.

"Without organ donation, transplantation does not exist," Kim said. "There is no bigger gift than donation, except perhaps donating as a live donor in which you undergo a procedure to save another person's life."

In 2014 (the last year for which we have data), 4.1 percent of the 6,142 liver transplants in the U.S. were living-donor transplants. The procedure provides a unique chance for people in need of a liver transplant to receive one before they become extremely sick and reach the top of the transplant wait list.

Recipient Lynn Clark, of Logan, has been battling liver failure for years. He contracted hepatitis C from a blood transfusion in 1980 following a car accident, which led to cirrhosis and liver failure. He received 60 percent of his son Jason's liver - Jason was the only match among his children. It will take about two months for Jason's liver to regenerate to 90 percent of its former size. Lynn is expected to begin feeling much better almost immediately.

As soon as Jason found out he was a match, the father of three (with a fourth on the way) decided to move forward.

"No hesitation," Jason said. "I want to help my dad get better. . I'm really excited for it. It's been really hard watching him not be able to do those things he could do when we were kids, like being able to get up and walk around and play with us. So, knowing we're going to be able to fix that and get him active again, it's worth it to me." 

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