First human liver transplant was performed by Dr Thomas Starzl in Denver, Colorado in 1963.

First NZ liver transplant recipient was transplanted in 1986 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA

Improved outcomes resulted in the National Institutes of Health (USA) stating in 1983 that "liver transplantation can no longer be regarded as experimental surgery but it is now an accepted therapeutic modality for end-stage liver disease."  

9000 liver transplants are performed in 200 centres around the world each year.  

The expected one-year patient survival rates are now approximately 90% after elective transplantation for cirrhosis and 75% after emergency transplantation for acute liver failure.

Prior to February 1998, 130 New Zealanders had received liver transplants, most in Sydney or Brisbane. These patients and their families have had to stay in Australia for 3-12 months.

The longest surviving recipient in the world is now almost 30 years post-transplant.

Most recipients return to full productive lives, including a return to work and previous leisure activities.

Young women with liver transplants are able to consider pregnancy and delivery which carries a minimal risk to mother and baby.

Liver transplantation is cost-effective treatment compared to the non-surgical treatment, usually involving repeated admissions to hospital, offered to patients with end-stage liver disease.

The contract for New Zealand's first liver transplant unit was awarded to Auckland Healthcare in April 1997.

Liver transplantation is a complex procedure which requires many staff, including transplant surgeons, hepatologists, anaesthetists, intensivists, radiologists, radiographers, transfusion specialists, perfusionists, ward, intensive care and theatre nurses, transplant co-ordinators, social workers, physiotherapists, nutritionists, scientists and managers.

The staff involved with liver transplantation have either had extensive overseas experience (team leaders) or been trained by gaining short-term overseas experience recently.


Taken from web page - June 2004