Until the present time, whole-organ hepatic homotransplantation has been a disappointing procedure, both in experimental animals and in man. The operation itself carries a high immediate risk, especially in the dog, which is peculiarly subject to an anoxic hepatic injury termed “outflow block.” In reported canine experiments, the majority of animals have failed to recover from the acute effects of operation. Because of the fact that it has not been possible to obtain a consistently satisfactory preparation, evaluations of the efficacy of immunosuppressive regimens for the prevention of rejection have never been published.
In the following remarks, attention will be directed to the influence of therapy with azathioprine, or azathioprine plus prednisone, upon the rejection process in dogs and in five patients receiving hepatic homografts after removal of their own livers. Since efforts to obtain long-term survival were eventually futile in both groups, an analysis of the reasons for failure will be attempted. Finally, alternative solutions will be presented which are designed to avoid the many pitfalls that have thus far precluded success.