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OU Health completes state's first liver transplant to treat aggressive bile duct cancer

The OU Health campus
OU Health
The OU Health campus

OU Health completed Oklahoma's first liver transplant to treat an aggressive form of bile duct cancer. The new service could provide options for some patients who will no longer have to leave the state to receive care.

Hilar cholangiocarcinoma typically spreads along the bile duct and can move into the liver. Less than 10% of people survive five years beyond their diagnosis.

Currently, about 20 programs offer transplantation for cholangiocarcinoma in the country, according to apress release.

Now, eligible Oklahomans can be placed on a transplant waitlist and can receive one once they match with a donor. Only about 20 % to 30% of patients can receive surgical treatment because the disease is usually too advanced when they receive a diagnosis.

Dr. Narendra Battula, a transplant surgeon at OU Health, said the operation requires a lot of planning, including factors like the availability of donor organs and whether patients can take the anti-rejection pills after they receive the transplant.

The patient OU Health treated with a liver transplant was going to have the part of her liver with cancer removed. But the cancer ended up covering enough of her liver that she couldn’t survive on the piece that was left behind.

Then, she was considered for a transplant.

Battula said she was matched with a donor a few days after being added to the donor database. He said the transplant occurred without complications, and she’s been recovering well.

“She gained weight, she’s in good spirits. The follow-up CT scans, which we do every three months in the initial phase, was free from cancer,” Battula said

Battula said he’s glad OU Health is providing other Oklahomans with an option that can significantly improve their survival rates. He said the transplant is an achievement for the cancer center, which used to have to refer patients to specialists in Texas.

“It's a serious disease, and time is of essence, and I think they should be served better at their local hospitals,” Battula said.

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership of Oklahoma’s public radio stations which relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

Jillian Taylor reports on health and related topics for StateImpact Oklahoma.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
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