26 September 2023

Liver Transport miracles celebrating 30 years

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The Southern Adelaide Local Health Network’s Liver Transplant Unit is celebrating 30 years of providing services to the community, helping hundreds of South Australians in that time to live longer and better-quality lives.

Since 1992 the SA Liver Transplant Unit has performed almost 500 liver transplant surgeries, performing approximately 25 life-changing liver transplant surgeries every year.

The unit, based at Flinders Medical Centre, consists of a team of doctors, nurses and other staff who are on call 24 hours a day, ready to perform liver transplants, which can take up to 12 hours.

According to the Director of the SA Liver Transplant Unit, Dr John Chen, people who live with chronic liver disease often experience an impaired quality of life.

“Liver transplant surgery significantly improves a patient’s quality of life and reduces the chance of dying from liver disease,” Dr Chen said.

“It is incredibly satisfying to see a person’s mobility and quality of life improve after surgery, and it’s a privilege to be part of the South Australian Liver Transplant Unit team where we make this change possible for dozens of South Australians and Territorians every year,” he said.

Transplant recipient, Alan Sicolo, was diagnosed with a very rare form of liver cancer with no known treatments just before his 28th birthday when doctors told him he only had six months to live.

“The South Australian Liver Transplant Unit saved my life,” Mr Sicolo said.

“As it was a rare cancer there was a lot of uncertainty on how effective the surgery would be, but the team took a chance on me and it paid off,” he said.

“Without the team who performed my liver transplant surgery, me and my kids wouldn’t be here.

“Our entire life right now is thanks to this incredible team and their skill. We are eternally grateful.”

Mr Sicolo said he hoped his story encouraged people who hadn’t registered for organ donation yet to do so.

“It’s a life altering gift and hey you never know if one day you’ll be the person who needs a transplant,” he said.

Further information relating to organ donation can be accessed at the national Organ and Tissue Authority at PS News link.

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