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ABOUT LIVER TRANSPLANTS

What is required for a match?

The donor and the recipient should be about the same body size and have a compatible blood type, said Professor K.K. Madhavan, director of the National University Centre for Organ Transplantation's Liver Transplant Programme.

They will also have to undergo blood tests, X-rays and scans to assess their suitability.

During testing, is it common to get a match?

"Usually one in three will be suitable," said Prof Madhavan, adding that prospective donors should be healthy, with no illness and medication history.

When a match is found, what sort of risk is present for the donor?

Despite great care taken by doctors, some donors have, unfortunately, died from complications after liver donation, with an overall risk of death at less than 0.5 per cent worldwide, said Dr Cheow Peng Chung, director of the Liver Transplant Service at Singapore General Hospital.

"The possibility of complications is 20 per cent to 40 per cent, but most of these complications are minor."

Prof Madhavan said this risk will be discussed with the donor and recipient before surgery.

He added: "Those who are found to be suitable will be further assessed by a National Transplant Ethics Committee, who will decide whether a transplant will be allowed to take place."

What is the current availability of livers today?

There are only six livers per million people in Singapore, said Prof Madhavan.

This is compared to the about 50 persons in Singapore waiting for a suitable liver, said Dr Cheow.

He added: "The waiting list is not as long as that for a kidney transplant, as patients who do not manage to get a liver transplant in time generally die from their illness."