According to a study by the University of California – San Francisco School of Medicine, morbidly obese patients with end-stage organ failure may have an increased change of successful transplantation after a sleeve gastrectomy. Though the study only examined 26 patients, the researchers say that it is the largest study to examine the impact of weight loss surgery on pre-transplant patients. The study looked at 20 patients with liver dysfunction and 6 patients with end-stage kidney disease. While all of them were candidates for liver or kidney transplant, the patients combined average BMI was 48.3.

The study reports that after gastric sleeve surgery patients lost nearly 17% of their excess weight in just one month, up to 50% in a year and 66% in just two years’ time. Within nine months of enduring weight loss surgery, one patient’s kidney function stabilized and they no longer needed a transplant. Another patient received a liver and kidney, another just a kidney and six patients livers. The remaining patients all are on the waiting list and have all lost enough weight to receive their new organs. Out of 26 patients, there were six complications and one patient died four years after receiving the surgery before they had their transplant.

The study researchers believe that sleeve gastrectomy can be performed safely on morbidly obese patients who have organ failure in order to help save their lives so they are eligible for organ transplant. In addition to successful weight loss, these patients also saw improvements in Type 2 Diabetes with seven of 13 patients with a diabetes diagnosis experiencing complete resolution of the disease.

Ultimately, the federal government reports that more than two-thirds of America’s overweight or obese have obesity-related liver or kidney disease. It is fast becoming a common reason for a transplant. Researchers say that most centers will not perform transplantation on those with a BMI of more than 35 to 40. They also report that one-third of people on organ transplant waiting lists are obese and 15% are morbidly obese.
The study reports that they chose sleeve gastrectomy for pre-transplant patients because it avoids implantation of any foreign body and helps to maintain endoscopic access to the biliary system, including the bile ducts, certain liver cells and the gallbladder. The need for understanding the implementation of weight loss surgery and organ failure is imminent.