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The BBC is reporting about doctors in London who say some patients with severely damaged livers may not need a transplant as their own organ is actually regrowing.

This doesn’t surprise me. When I was a kid if I fell down and grazed my knee it would scab and heal itself. Why would any other part of body behave differently if given the right environment?

“You can’t keep one disease and heal two others. When the body heals, it heals everything” Charlotte Gerson

King’s College Hospital has a leading liver transplant centre and is one of few places to perform “auxiliary transplants”, performed in sudden cases of liver failure caused by overdoses or viral infections, rather than the long-term damage caused by alcohol abuse. The doctors from Kings made the discovery by looking at a rare group of patients given a transplant while their own damaged liver is left in the body.

Sometimes the original liver recovers.

A study, in the American Journal of Transplantation, suggests doctors can predict which patients do not need a transplant as their liver is healing.

Normally in organ transplants one organ comes out and a new one goes in. However, in this complex operation the transplant is put in beside the old liver.

The article says that after any transplant a patient needs to take a lifetime of drugs to suppress the immune system in order to avoid rejection. The drugs leave the body vulnerable to infection. However, if the patient’s liver does eventually recover then they can come off the immunosuppressant drugs and their body will get rid of the transplant.

The transplant is used to get the patient past the critical stage of the illness.

But the recovery happens only in some patients. In the study, the transplant was no longer needed in seven out of 11 patients.

So doctors analysed the detailed chemistry inside the liver cells of patients and looked for differences between those who recovered and those who did not.

Dr Varuna Aluvihare told the BBC: “There was a big difference right from the point of transplantation in the expression of some very small molecules between the group that would, three years down the line, regrow their liver versus the group that never did.”

Those molecules regulated the way cells in the liver grow.

“Some of them were already starting to regrow. So what we may be able to do is come up with a better set of tests to allow us to identify those patients who are already regrowing and may not need transplantation.

“So we may be able to remove a group from the transplant list.”

The liver does have a phenomenal ability to regenerate. In healthy people it will recover in the space of months even if a large amount is taken away.

People who need a transplant because of acute liver failure are seriously ill. Even if doctors could tell which patients’ livers were already on the path to recovery, they would still need to keep those patients alive long enough for the liver to return to form.

Dr Aluvihare argued this would be possible as a small amount of restored liver function would be enough for patients to leave hospital.

He said there are cases at King’s of patients recovering while they were on the waiting list.

“I would say five to 10 patients a year we seriously consider for emergency transplantation and then they start recovering.

“That tells us there probably is a pool there and there is probably quite a lot of mileage in identifying people would would recover.”

Whether this would work is still uncertain. The team have received funding to look for those chemical differences in the blood of patients.

Cystic Fibrosis A Race We Must Win2013 Miles in 2013

I am doing my 2013 miles in 2013 challenge in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust as I have been surprised since I started fundraising for the CF Trust just how many people are unaware of this disease and so I hope my efforts will not just raise money, but also awareness of the UK’s most most common life-threatening inherited disease.

The first person to commit to sponsoring my 2013 mile challenge has committed to 1p per mile (£20.13 in total) and this got me thinking. I am hoping that as many as possible of those reading this will commit to do the same and the best thing is, if each person does this on a “pay as you go” type approach all you will need to part with is approx £2 just after each pay day. In January I completed 205.9 miles, in February I completed a further 200.9 miles, in March I completed 185.7 miles and in April I completed 192.1 miles. If you can please spare £7.85 to help the Cystic Fibrosis Trust it will be greatly appreciated.

The easiest way to give your sponsorship is to visit my Just Giving page:

2013 Miles in 2013 – The rules

The rules for my 2013 miles in 2013 challenge are quite simple:

  1. All miles must be completely self powered (no motors, sails, etc)
  2. I must be able to evidence all miles, either via GPS or with a picture of any static gym equipment

To complete my 2013 miles I will be running, cycling, rowing and who knows, I might even try a few other self powered methods along the way.