Living Donor Liver Transplants

"Thanks to Dr. Jeon, I am a liver cancer survivor.  After receiving the devastating news that I had a cancerous tumor in my liver, and learning from four of the leading hospitals that specialize in liver transplants that the large size of the tumor eliminated me as a candidate for a cadaver liver transplant, I thought it would only be a matter of time before I would succumb to this terrible disease.  It was then during this stressful and frustrating period that I was miraculously referred to Dr. Jeon at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), and he offered me an opportunity to win the battle over liver cancer—a liver transplant from a living donor.  And the living donor would be my daughter, Melinda, who offered to donate her entire right lobe (61% of her liver) to replace my cancerous liver.  This option was only possible because of the uniqueness of the liver which is its ability to regenerate itself.  Although there are risks to such a surgery to both Melinda and myself, I am forever grateful to Dr. Jeon and his liver transplant team who successfully performed the transplant.  The success of this transplant would not have been possible without Dr. Jeon’s exceptional medical skills, commitment, and dedication to his patients. Not only is he a talented surgeon, but his concern for his patients is unmatched.  He was always there for us, both day and night, whenever any concerns arose during the recovery period."   
                                                                                                         --- Carol N

The University of Illinois Medical Center has established a living-donor liver transplant program offering advanced treatment to patients suffering from End-Stage Liver Disease (cirrhosis) or selected cases of liver cancer.  Due to a shortage of deceased donor organs which creates significant delay in timely treatment of these patients, University of Illinois surgeons perform living-donor liver transplants between adults. This represents a unique opportunity to provide patients with a timely transplantation while optimizing the patient’s condition. Until recently, very few adults in this country were treated with a partial liver graft from a live donor.

The University of Illinois at Chicago Transplant Center liver program was launched in 1985. From their extensive experience in liver transplantation, the institution is able to offer patients with liver diseases opportunities previously not available or even considered possible.

  • First adult-to-adult living donor liver transplant in the US (1998)
  • First coronary artery bypass and liver transplant in the same setting (1998)
  • First liver and small bowel transplants from same living donor into same recipient worldwide (2004)
  • First robotic living donor hepatectomy in the US (2005)
  • One of two programs worldwide offering living donor transplant option for all abdominal organs: kidney liver, pancreas, intestine, combined liver/bowel, combined kidney/pancreas

One of the key determinants for the successful improvements for the liver transplant program has been the multi-disciplinary team. Refinement of surgical technique, skillful management of immunosuppressive therapy and prompt diagnosis of rejection are ways University of Illinois surgeons continuously strive to improve post-operative results.

About Hoonbae Jeon MD, FACS

Academic Appointment

Associate Professor of Surgery
Director, Liver Transplantation and Hepatobiliary Surgery
University of Illinois at Chicago

Hoonbae Jeon MD, FACS

Dr. Hoonbae Jeon earned his medical degree from Korea University, Seoul, Korea and finished his general surgery residency training at the same institution. Afterward, he joined Asan Medical Center, Ulsan University, Seoul, Korea for his advanced training in hepatobiliary surgery and liver transplantation. This is one of pioneering groups in the world that has performed living-donor liver transplantation and has become the largest liver transplant program in the world for the past decade He came to the US to hone his skills and experience further and continued his training at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, which was the leading institution in living-donor liver transplantation in early 2000’s.

He joined the University of Illinois as the surgical director of liver transplantation and primary living-donor liver transplant surgeon. He has been devoting himself for not only maintaining prestigious tradition of the liver transplant program, but also accomplishing multiple innovations in living donor liver transplantation, such as multidisciplinary approach for cholangiocarcinoma (which took Walter Payton’s life away), minimally invasive approach to donor liver resection, and aggressive weight loss program for possible donor candidate to expand the organ pool.

Licensure and Board Certifications

  • National Medial Licensure of Korea (No. 40402)
  • Board Certified in General Surgery (Republic of Korea)
  • ASTS Certification of Transplant Fellowship
  • Kentucky, Illinois Medical License
  • Fellow, American College of Surgeons
  • UNOS certified primary living donor liver transplant surgeon at the University of Illinois

Research Interest

  • Partial liver transplantation (live donor and split)
  • Expansion of donor pool in transplantation