Narrator: This is Science Today. About eight thousand Americans are waiting for a liver transplant. Yet, each year only 4000 livers are donated. Dr. Ronald Busuttil, director of the UCLA Transplant Center, says the organ shortage is even more acute amongst pediatric patients.
Busuttil: Fifty percent of the children that we transplant have a congenital disease known as biliary atresia in which the baby is born without fully developed bile ducts. And as a result of this, cirrhosis develops.
Narrator: On average, a baby waits about 280 days for a new liver. But that's changing with UCLA's split liver program, which reduces the wait by splitting a donated liver between an adult and a child.
Busuttil: By doing this for the kids in particular, we have been able reduces the waiting time down from 270-280 days down to less than a month. If you can do an organ transplant in somebody who is not on death's door, you can definitely have better results. And this allows that because it allows them to get an organ sooner. They're not waiting as long and that's the bottom line.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.