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China to Track 'Personality Changes' in Liver Transplant

Scientists in Guangzhou will monitor liver transplant patients for personality changes after reports that US scientists have found that recipients seem to sometimes take on personality traits of the donor.


Chinese scientists have found no evidence so far indicating distinct personality changes in liver transplants patients. Yang Yang, a liver specialist from Sun Yat-Sen University in south China's Guangdong Province, says doctors will track patients more closely to see if they exhibit new personality traits.


He said it was quite natural for liver transplants patients to undergo some personality changes after their life-and-death struggle with liver failure, but most patients return to normal after a few months. "These changes are not necessarily caused by donated organs," he told an ongoing forum on liver transplants in Guangzhou.


Yang said he had read a US medical journal that reports some patients began to act like their organ donors after a liver transplant. "The report said an introverted person, for example, might become outgoing and a very quiet person might suddenly become extroverted."


Between 40 and 50 percent of the world's liver transplant patients are from China. This is due to liver damage caused by pollution and a high incidence of hepatitis, said Wu Mengchao, a liver and gallbladder specialist of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


He said doctors in Guangdong Province have made great progress in liver transplant technologies over the past decade.


Professor Chen Guihua, a top liver specialist in the province, has carried out more than 1,000 liver transplant surgeries since the therapy became popular in the 1990s, making up 10 percent of China's total liver transplants. At least 90 percent of patients survive one year, 70 to 80 percent live for three years and 67 percent for five years.


Chinese hospitals have also encouraged families to consider liver donation in order to overcome the shortage of transplant organ.


In 2004, 2,600 patients received liver transplants and 6,000 received kidney transplants. This ranks China second only to the United States in organ transplants, the Ministry of Health said.


(Xinhua News Agency February 17, 2006)


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