Liver transplantation is the replacement of a diseased liver with a healthy liver graft. The most commonly used technique is orthotopic transplantation, in which the native liver is removed and replaced by the donor organ in the same anatomic location as the original liver.

Liver transplantation is a well accepted treatment option for end-stage liver disease and acute liver failure. The first human liver transplant was performed in 1963 by a surgical team led by Dr. Thomas Starzl of Denver, Colorado, United States. Dr. Starzl performed several additional transplants over the next few years before the first short-term success was achieved in 1967 with the first one-year survival post transplantation. Despite the development of viable surgical techniques, liver transplantation remained experimental through the 1970s, with one year patient survival in the vicinity of 25%. The introduction of the immunosuppressant ciclosporin markedly improved patient outcomes, and the 1980s saw recognition of liver transplantation as a standard clinical treatment for both adult and paediatric patients with end stage liver disease.

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Newcastle's Regional Liver Transplant Unit is one of only seven liver transplant centres in the UK. The unit was established at the Freeman Hospital in 1992 where we performed our first liver transplant in January 1993. We have since performed more than 700 liver transplants.