Leading Foundation and Pioneering Transplant Center Strive to Combat Misinformation About Living-Donor Liver Transplantation
Today the American Liver Foundation (ALF), in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), launched The Greatest Gift Initiative to raise awareness about lifesaving living-donor liver transplantation. This initiative teaches Americans with end-stage liver disease strategies for finding a living donor, and inspires more people to consider donating a part of their liver.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional challenges for patients on the liver transplant waiting list, there has long been a large disparity between the number of deceased donor organs available for transplant and the growing number of patients on the liver transplant waiting list. Currently, over 1,500 people die in the U.S. each year while waiting for a deceased-donor liver to become available for transplantation. The Greatest Gift Initiative aims to bring that number to zero.
"At ALF, we envision a future in which no one must die waiting for a liver, and the general public is aware of the miracle of living donor liver transplantation. If Americans want to know what they can do to help others during this unprecedented time, one option is to consider become a living donor," said Lynn Seim, MSN, RN, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, American Liver Foundation. "There are many reasons living-donor liver transplantation is underutilized; however, most often it has to do with a lack of information about this option, compounded by the stigma that surrounds liver disease. That is why we are proud to partner with UPMC, one of the leading transplant centers in the country on this initiative. We are thankful to New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Columbia University Medical Center and Jim and Jeannie Goldberg, who are donating their time, expertise and support to ensure the initiative’s success."
A survey conducted by WebMD, in partnership with UPMC, in 2019 found that 80% of respondents reported a lack of understanding about the liver transplant process, and only 1 in 10 liver patients and caregivers stated that living donation was discussed by their physician. Increased awareness of living-donor liver transplant is key to addressing this gap. UPMC and the ALF are committed to working together to offer education about the benefits of living-donor liver transplant among waiting list patients and potential living donors to increase access to living-donor liver transplant and ultimately decrease waiting list mortality.
"If you look at the history of liver transplantation, it really started here in Pittsburgh. Fast forward 30 years and we are still at the forefront. Our philosophy is that anyone who needs a liver transplant can potentially qualify for a living-donor liver transplant. That is why our partnership with the American Liver Foundation and on-going efforts to raise awareness and increase education about living-donor liver transplants is so important," says Abhinav Humar, M.D., Chief of Transplantation at UPMC. "Our mission is to help patients reduce time spent on the transplant waiting list so they can get back to enjoying life with their families and loved ones."
As part of The Greatest Gift Initiative, ALF launched an online hub, called the Living-Donor Liver Transplant Information Center, with reliable and comprehensive information for individuals interested in becoming living donors and for those in need of a liver transplant.
Liver disease affects over 30 million people in the U.S. each year, including children and adults. Many liver diseases have silent symptoms, sometimes leading to late diagnoses and the need for liver transplantation. In 2016, the most common reasons for needing a liver transplant were alcoholic liver disease, liver cancer, fatty liver disease (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis NASH), and cirrhosis caused by chronic hepatitis. For children, the most common cause was biliary atresia.i The ALF works to promote education, advocacy, awareness and funding of research for liver disease.
For more information about living donor transplantation, visit https://liverfoundation.org/living-donor-liver-transplant-an-introduction/.
About the American Liver Foundation
Founded in 1976, the American Liver Foundation (ALF) is the nation’s largest patient advocacy organization for people with liver disease. ALF reaches more than 2 million individuals each year with health information, education and support services via its national office, 16 U.S. divisions and an active online presence. Recognized as a trusted voice for liver disease patients, ALF also operates a national toll-free helpline (800-GO-LIVER), educates patients, policymakers and the public, and provides grants to early-career researchers to help find a cure for all liver diseases. ALF is celebrating more than 40 years of turning patients into survivors. For more information about ALF, please visit www.liverfoundation.org.
A $21 billion health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC is inventing new models of patient-centered, cost-effective, accountable care. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates more than 90,000 employees, 40 hospitals, 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, and a 3.8 million-member Insurance Services Division, the largest medical insurer in western Pennsylvania. In the most recent fiscal year, UPMC contributed $1.4 billion in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region’s most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution, and paid more than $500 million in federal, state, and local taxes. Working in close collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC shares its clinical, managerial, and technological skills worldwide through its innovation and commercialization arm, UPMC Enterprises, and through UPMC International. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside on its annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. For more information, go to UPMC.com.
NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the nation’s most comprehensive, integrated academic healthcare systems, encompassing 10 hospital campuses across the Greater New York area, more than 200 primary and specialty care clinics and medical groups, and an array of telemedicine services. A leader in medical education, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is the only academic medical center in the nation affiliated with two world-class medical schools, Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. Ranked the #5 hospital in the nation and #1 in New York in U.S. News & World Report’s "Best Hospitals" survey, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is also recognized as among the best in the nation in every pediatric specialty evaluated in the U.S. News "Best Children’s Hospitals" survey. NewYork-Presbyterian hospitals are not for profit and provide more than $1 billion in benefits every year to the community, including medical care, school-based health clinics and support for more than 300 community programs and activities.
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is an international leader in the transplantation of organs including the heart, lung, liver, kidney, intestine, and pancreas. Across our two transplant program campuses NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center — we have a long history of performing transplants with excellent outcomes. Physicians trust us with their patents’ care and patients travel from around the world for our expertise and our innovative techniques and multidisciplinary, integrated team approach to address the spectrum of transplant needs of patients and their families.
Akeia Blue 202-591-4010