The movement of intestines was the topic of the night in the Brady Auditorium Wednesday.
The Yale-New Haven Transplantation Center sponsored a talk Wednesday given by Dr. Douglas G. Farmer on the techniques and outcomes of intestinal transplantation. In front of an audience of 30 health care professionals including surgeons, doctors and pharmacists at the Brady Auditorium, Farmer emphasized the complexity of intestinal transplantation.
“The bowel is a very unforgiving organ,” said Farmer, who is the director of the Intestinal Transplant Program at Dumont-UCLA.
Intestinal failure is a condition that can cause persistent diarrhea, Farmer said, and often results in short stature and heaviness in children, and can drastically limit the lifestyle of adults. While there are various reasons for the condition, surgeries that remove parts of the intestines often result in malfunctioning intestines.
Many patients with intestinal failure are placed on intravenous feeding throughout their lives. But transplantation becomes necessary when the patients begin to develop complications such as liver disease or kidney stones, Farmer said. These patients can receive different intestinal transplants depending on the organs compromised by the condition, and the type of surgery that patients receive depends on the organs affected.
The term “intestinal failure” is a reasonably new invention, and Farmer said it was only in the last decade that the term became widely used in the medical community. The first successful intestinal transplants were performed relatively recently in comparison with transplants of other organs, he said.
After their 100th transplantation, Farmer’s team compiled data from their patients’ survival outcomes and found that the one-year survival rate of patients across different types of transplantations has increased by 23 percent since the early 1990s. The study reported that a staggering 40 percent of patients never developed rejection to donor tissues. But the No. 1 cause of patient death in their patient pool was infection.
“Both infection and rejection still remain formidable opponents of patient survival,” Farmer said.
Eric Tichy, a transplant pharmacist at the Yale-New Haven Transplantation Center and an audience member at Wednesday’s talk, said he enjoyed Farmer’s discussion of the different types of surgeries.
“It is very interesting to hear about transplantations that contain multiple organs as opposed to just the liver or kidney alone,” he said.
Dr. Manuel Rodriguez-Davalos, a liver transplant surgeon at the Yale-New Haven Transplantation Center said that although Yale does not have an intestinal transplant program, the talk was helpful to health care professionals present because Farmer discussed the potential for transplant failure and methods to reduce its likelihood.
Yale-New Haven Hospital, Rodriguez-Davalos said, is starting to see an increasing number of patients with intestinal problems, so an intestinal transplant program could have a future there.
Every day, an average of 10,000-20,000 Americans live with failing intestines, Farmer said.