South Korea’s Asan Medical Center leads global pack in liver transplants

2022. 12. 1. 15:03
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Asan Medical Center (AMC) [Photo provided by AMC]
The number of overseas patients visiting Asan Medical Center (AMC) for disease treatment has recovered to a pre-Covid level with about 14,000 patients on admission at the end of October this year.

By nationality, the U.S. made up for the highest number with 3,459 patients or 25 percent of the total, followed by those from Mongolia with 2,353 or 17 percent, the United Arab Emirates with 2,281 or 16 percent, China with 889 or 6 percent, Kazakhstan with 782 or 5 percent, and Vietnam with 594 or 4 percent.

AMC is the first private hospital in Korea to open an infection control center, which has dispelled concerns about severely ill foreign patients contracting high-risk infectious diseases during their travels. This is one of the reasons foreign patients keep coming to AMC for treatment despite the pandemic, according to the hospital.

AMC stands out especially in liver transplant. In September 2022, AMC carried out more than 8,000 liver transplants for the first time in the world. Starting with brain-dead donor liver transplantation in 1992 and living donor liver transplantation in 1994, a total of 1,342 brain-dead donor liver transplantations and 6,658 living donor liver transplantations were performed as of September this year.

Notably, AMC holds the world record for the number of living donor liver transplantations, 2-for-1 liver transplantations, and ABO-incompatible liver transplantations. And the hospital succeeded in liver transplantation using a modified right lobe graft and 2-for-1 liver transplantation for the first time in the world, setting a standard for liver transplant globally.

[Photo provided by AMC]
AMC has demonstrated excellent patient outcomes and stability in the field of liver transplant. The survival rate of liver transplant patients at this hospital reaches 98 percent for one year, 90 percent for three years, and 89 percent for 10 years. That’s higher than 92 percent for one year at the Pittsburgh Medical Center and the University of California San Francisco Medical Center in the U.S. The 10-year survival rate of pediatric liver transplantation at AMC is 99 percent.

Since 2010, 131 foreign patients have visited AMC for liver transplant. Patients came from various countries such as the U.S., Chile, Russia, China, Vietnam, and Kazakhstan, while the UAE and Mongolia had the highest number of cases, with 67 and 45, respectively. Despite the pandemic that started in 2020, 26 patients so far have received liver transplants at AMC.

There is also a foreign patient who gave up treatment abroad but received a successful liver transplant at AMC. A man from Chile only identified as Alberto, 62, was diagnosed with end stage liver cirrhosis and advanced liver cancer. In his country, 1-for-1 living donor liver transplantation was impossible due to insufficient size of liver from donors, and brain-dead liver transplantation was also challenging for Chilean surgeons. Finally, a local liver transplant surgeon suggested he get treatment at AMC. Alberto underwent a successful 2-for-1 living donor liver transplantation at AMC in April 2019 with liver donation by his two daughters.

Foreign medical scientists are constantly visiting AMC to learn the hospital’s advanced skills in liver transplant. Since 2010, more than 680 medical professionals from 50 countries, including the U.S. and Germany, have learned the best practice from AMC. In 2015, the University of Minnesota Medical School, which had taught Korean doctors right after the 1950-53 Korean War as the host educational institution under ‘Minnesota Project’, proposed cooperation for technology learning in living donor liver transplantation from AMC. This collaboration is a testament to AMC’s global leadership in liver transplant.

AMC keeps making new attempts to improve convenience for foreign patients. By introducing concierge service (non-medical services) for the first time as a Korean hospital in Korea, AMC helps reduce the psychological burden that patients with severe diseases may feel due to time-consuming administrative processes such as transportation and accommodation bookings and visa issues. In addition, virtual consultations are available for foreign patients who want to make a treatment plan before entering Korea or want to be looked after returning home.

[Image captured from AMC homepage]
AMC ranked 30th in Newsweek‘s World’s Best Hospitals 2022 announced earlier this year. It is the only Korean hospital to enter the global top 30 for three consecutive years, establishing itself as a ‘fourth-line hospital’ that leads global medical care.

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