Intermountain Among First in U.S. to Use Diseased Livers for Transplant

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MURRAY — Lorenzo Swank was dying in his 20s.

Diagnosed with a chronic liver disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis in 2010, the Salt Lake man was added to the liver transplant waitlist in 2013. As bile built up in his liver, Swank began to lose liver function. By May, he was close to dying. And yet, there was no word that a liver for Swank was coming anytime soon.

That’s when doctors at Intermountain Medical Center approached him with an unusual idea: They could do the transplant with a diseased liver. “I said, ‘Sold,'” Swank said. “Let’s do it.”

Intermountain Medical Center is the first transplant center in Utah and likely the U.S. to use livers infected with hepatitis C to save lives. After the surgery, organ recipients are put on a treatment regimen to get rid of the virus. “We’re taking damaged goods for these patients to be able to save their lives,” said Dr. Richard Gilroy, medical director of the liver transplantation program at Intermountain Medical Center.

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