After the accident, she lost 80 percent of her liver. She got a new one for 11 days. “This is the first operation of its kind in the world”


Half-jokingly, half-seriously, doctors wonder whether the liver transplant they performed will be reimbursed, because it was only temporary. Doctors implanted a liver from a deceased donor into the patient, but only for a time until her liver regenerates. And it worked.

Aldona Oszczypała, who works in the district self-help home in Opatów and who had been in good health until then, suddenly became the main character of a press conference at the Central Clinical Hospital in Warsaw. This is because a month ago she was in a car accident. Her liver was destroyed and then grew back. In the meantime, she had to undergo surgery to transplant and vaccinate a liver from a deceased donor.

– For now, I have to get used to all of this, to the truth that it all worked out, that I could not have been here, that I had little chance, and that I won. I have never really won anything in my life, and I won here – says Aldona Oszczypała, a patient at the Central Hospital in Warsaw.

The patient had a liver transplanted for 11 days

Mrs. Aldona won because after the accident she quickly found herself in the hands of excellent specialists who, in order to save her life and full mobility, implanted a liver from a deceased donor for 11 days. Only for 11 days.

– We used a fragment of the liver not to treat acute liver failure, but to prevent acute postoperative liver failure. This is the first such operation in the world. A completely different surgical concept of approaching the treatment of patients with the most severe liver injuries – emphasizes Professor Michał Grąt, head of the Department of General, Transplant and Liver Surgery at the Medical University of Warsaw.

And Mrs. Aldona's post-accident trauma was indeed significant: 80 percent of her own liver was no longer fit for anything. It was necessary to simply cut out this large chunk and hope that the remaining 20 percent would regenerate.

– Another thing that was surprising: how quickly the liver regrew and how quickly it properly resumed its function – points out Dr. hab. Wojciech Figiel, head of the Department of Intensive Surgical Therapy at the Clinic of General, Transplant and Liver Surgery.

“The liver is smarter than we think”

The liver can grow back, but doctors didn't expect Mrs. Aldona's to do so so quickly. In 11 days, her own small surviving piece had tripled in size. The liver didn't return to its former size, but it quickly grew enough to continue working without the help of the transplanted one.

– This is extraordinary and the liver is smarter than we think. The body regenerates, but the liver regenerates in particular – says Prof. Michał Grąt.

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Mrs. Aldona feels immense gratitude to the doctors and her liver, which rose to the challenge. The patient's taste has only changed.

– I even laugh that this is why my taste has changed, because she is young and she has to get used to it, to these coffees, to all this – comments Aldona Oszczypała.

Mrs. Aldona's husband, who looks with amazement at his wife and how their life has suddenly changed, also has his own thoughts. – The most important thing in life is health, not money or work or anything. Health is the most important thing, life – emphasizes Zbigniew Oszczypała.

The method of supportive liver transplantation will certainly now be used more often by doctors.

Main image source: CKS WUM

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