(PARIS) -- Early liver transplantation can improve survival in patients with a first episode of severe alcoholic hepatitis who aren't responding to medical therapy, according to a study by French researchers released Wednesday.
A six-month abstinence from alcohol is usually required before patients with acute alcoholic hepatitis are considered for liver transplantation, but some doctors want to rethink the rule.
Only 30 percent of those who do not respond to treatment live beyond six months and most die within two months, according to the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
With supportive families, no other severe medical conditions and a commitment to future abstinence, patients can do well, the study revealed.
But study authors say that although early liver transplantation is "attractive," many doctors are reluctant to treat patients with alcoholism because they are "responsible for their illness" and are likely to resume drinking.
Alcoholic hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, is a potentially fatal condition that can be a "red flag" that cirrhosis of the liver may soon follow, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). The NIAAA says up to 70 percent of all alcoholic hepatitis patients will develop cirrhosis, a scarring of the liver that is a major cause of death in the United States.
But those who stop drinking can have a complete recovery from alcoholic hepatitis and a liver transplant can save their lives.
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