Hospital in Barcelona first to complete a liver transplant to treat rare condition

BREAKTHROUGH: A liver transplant that can cure MNGIE CREDIT: Flickr

VALL D´HEBRON HOSPITAL in Barcelona has become the first medical institution to successfully complete a liver transplant which treats gastrointestinal mitochondrial encephalopathy (MNGIE).

The operation has only been attempted five times ever and two of those attempts have been made in Barcelona. The most recent of which has proved to be successful.

Whereas the research in this area started in Italy four years ago, it has only in the last couple of months displayed encouraging results for MNGIE patients.


The MNGIE disease can limit a patient’s lifespan to a mere 40 years as it causes loss of mobility and key functions such as eye movement. The benefits of transplanting certain organs such as the liver are numerous in these cases as they can boost certain fundamental nucleosides through enzyme replacement.

The digestive tract is the area most at risk in these types of procedures and for that reason particular care is taken during invasive gastrointestinal operations such as these. Only the most qualified doctors such as digestive expert Carolina Magdalena of Barcelona University are given permission to attempt such procedures and thankfully the most recent results appear to give MNGIE patients a fighting chance.


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