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William Gledhill and Anthony Mele, patients in the Transplant Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, met after taking part in an extremely rare procedure known as a "domino" liver transplant.

Domino liver transplant patients meet

08/Feb/2012

Anthony Mele and William Gledhill, patients in the Transplant Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, recently took part in an extremely rare procedure known as a "domino" liver transplant. Such a transplant involves one patient, who is receiving a new liver from a deceased donor, donating his own liver to another living patient.

William Gledhill and Anthony Mele

Domino transplant recipients William Gledhill (left) and Anthony Mele met shortly after their surgeries.

“Of the more than 100,000 transplants that have been performed, only about 100 have been dominoes,” says James F. Markmann, MD, PhD, chief of the Transplant Center at Mass General and one of the surgeons involved in Mele and Glendhill’s transplants.

Mr. Mele suffered from a rare disease known as familial amyloidosis, which occurs when the liver produces an abnormal protein that can damage other organs and tissue over a long period of time. Mr. Gledhill, who was suffering from liver failure, was able to accept Mele's liver because familial amyloidosis takes years to develop and at age 70, the disease would not affect him perhaps until his mid-80s.

“You have to see what is the alternative,” says Martin Hertl, MD, surgical director of the Liver Transplantation Program at Mass General, of Gledhill.

Both Gledhill and Mele were recovering well after their transplants.

“I feel very good that my liver is working and I helped somebody live a better life,” Mele says.

The two men and their families met in the hospital shortly after their transplants, and Gledhill had the opportunity to thank Mele for the new liver.

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