Source/Credit: Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) — Some gravely ill alcoholics who need a liver transplant shouldn’t have to prove they can stay sober for six months to get one, doctors say in a study that could intensify the debate over whether those who destroy their organs by drinking deserve new ones.
In the small French study, the vast majority of the patients who got a liver without the wait stopped drinking after their surgery and were sober years later. The study involved patients who were suffering from alcohol-related hepatitis so severe that they were unlikely to survive a six-month delay.
The findings, reported in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, could boost demand for livers, already in scarce supply, and reopen a bitter dispute over whether alcoholics should even get transplants.
The controversy peaked in the 1990s when celebrities with drinking problems – Larry Hagman, David Crosby and Mickey Mantle – got liver transplants. More recently, British soccer star George Best received a new liver in 2002, started drinking again and died three years later.