A compilation of data at the University of Maryland in Baltimore shows that being obese after liver transplant decrease your chance of survival significantly. Dr Fayed and his group performed 285 liver transplants between 2000 and 2008 representing an average of 35 surgeries every year. The patients with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30 had their survival rate threatened because of their obesity.
According to the National Institutes of Health, a BMI of 30 and greater is considered obese. Normal weight is between 18.5 and 25. The way to calculate your BMI is pretty simple, as long as you know the metric system. It is your weight in Kg divided by (height in meters X height in meters). That should give you a number between 18 and 40. There are several tools available online to calculate you BMI for you.
Let’s go back to our story which is liver transplant survival and obesity. The way the surgeon split his data was in one group he had the patients with a BMI of less than 30 and the other group was composed of obese recipients with a BMI greater than 30. This transplant center does not do liver transplant on patient with a BMI above 40. The center has compiled data at 30 days, 1 year, 2 years and 5 years after liver transplant. There is already a trend trying to establish itself after the first 30 days where 97% of non-obese are still alive compared with 95% of obese. This is not very significant but the gap widened at one year after organ transplant. The survival rate is now 83% versus 75% in favor of non-obese. This 75% represents 1 obese liver transplant recipient out of 4 dies within the first year. The most significant gap was at the 2 year mark. Only 2 patients out of 3 (67%) were still alive in the obese group. The non-obese group would show a survival rate of 79% (4 out of 5). Finally at 5 years it was 63% vs 54% once again in favor of the non-obese group.
Nobody knows for sure, or can prove it, why obese patients die sooner. But most physicians have a pretty good idea about it. First of all an obese patients has more chance of having post-operative complications such as blood clots or pneumonia. Obese patients don’t get mobilize in or out of the bed as much as the lighter patients because it is very demanding physically for the hospital staff. It is just back breaking to continuously move large patients around.<!> Being obese affects the metabolism and may induce diabetes and hypertension. Those are two potential silent killers when left uncontrolled and can also cause kidney disease. It is just unhealthy to be obese at any time and even more so after organ transplant.