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Hemochromatosis Fades as Threat in Liver Transplants

Study finds patients more likely to die of other causes

FRIDAY, Aug. 17 (HealthDay News) -- The survival rates of liver transplant patients who have hemochromatosis have improved dramatically over the past decade and are now almost identical to the average survival rate of all liver transplant patients, researchers report in the August issue of Gastroenterology.

Lei Yu, M.D., of the University of Washington in Seattle, and a colleague used data from the United Network for Organ Sharing to compare the survival rates of adults receiving transplants in the United States between 1990 and 1996 (16,286) to the survival rates of those receiving transplants between 1997 and 2006 (34,020). The proportion of patients with hemochromatosis in the earlier group was 1.1. percent and 0.6 percent in the later group.

One-year survival rates for patients with hemochromatosis improved from 79 percent in the 1990-1996 period to 86 percent in the 1997-2006 group. The survival rates for hemochromatosis patients were higher than those with hepatocellular carcinoma, hepatitis C virus infection, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis-induced or cryptogenic cirrhosis, alcoholic liver disease or acute hepatic failure.

"Although we speculate that more careful patient selection with regard to cardiac diseases and hepatocellular carcinoma and improved care before and after transplantation are potential reasons for this observed change in survival, future research should attempt to confirm these hypotheses," the authors conclude.

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