6 Months to Live or Die: How Long Should an Alcoholic Liver Disease Patient Wait for a Transplant?

October 12, 2021

(Kaiser Health News) – In the U.S., a widespread practice requires patients with alcoholic liver disease to complete a period of sobriety before they can get on the waiting list for a liver. This informal policy, often called “the 6-month rule,” can be traced to the 1980s. The thinking then — and among proponents of the practice today — was that six months of abstinence gave a patient’s liver time to heal and, thus, avoid a transplant. If that didn’t work, the patient would have proven they can stay sober and would not return to drinking after a transplant. However, a landmark European study published in 2011 and several American studies in the decade since have exposed flaws in that premise. Six months of abstinence is not a good predictor of long-term sobriety, and for people with conditions like Gorzney’s, more than half die within that time. (Read Full Article)