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Autopsy findings of first baboon transplant patient

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 8, 1992--At a news conference on Sept. 8, 1992, doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center confirmed that the death of the 35-year-old man who received a baboon liver on June 28 was caused by a hemorrhage between membranes which cover and protect the brain. They also stated that an autopsy showed only mild signs of rejection.

"The state of that liver after more than 70 days was really remarkably good, almost normal," said Thomas Starzl, M.D., Ph.D., professor of surgery and director of the Pitt Transplantation Institute.

He also stated that blood vessels were normal, as well. "These were all very positive findings," he said. "Hallmarks of antibody-mediated rejection were not present." 

"Everyone at the beginning of this race had an almost pathologic fear of rejection because it had been seen in a virulent form in every other case ever done. And, they didn't see it here," he said.

Doctors also said they would continue their initial plans to perform a total of four baboon-to-human liver transplants once they have had an opportunity to review this initial case.

The cause of the hemorrhage will not be known until pathological studies are completed.

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