Singapore’s reputation as a centre for medical health care excellence attracts a growing number of visitors from around Asia and further afield every year. This is partly due to the high standards of medical care available in the city state and partly because Singapore is home to a wide range of specialist care not readily available in the region. One example of this is the Asian American Liver Centre, part of the Asian American Medical Group, located at Gleneagles Hospital.

Excellence in Care

Established in 1994, the Asian American Liver Centre (AALC) is a leading centre that treats liver, pancreas and bile duct diseases in both adult and paediatric patients. Based at Gleneagles Hospital, AALC also co-manages a dedicated inpatient Parkway Asian Transplant Unit (PATU).
Excellence in CareLed by Dr. Tan Kai Chah, a renowned liver surgeon specialising in liver transplantation, the team also comprises Dr. Lee Kang Hoe, a respiratory physician and intensivist and Dr. Cheah Yee Lee, a hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgeon. Backed up by a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses and allied healthcare professionals, the centre provides comprehensive and seamless liver care.

Liver failure can occur suddenly as a result of infection, complications from certain medications, or due to long-term progressive liver diseases. The first step to treating liver disease and/or damage is through medication. The liver has the potential to regenerate itself, but extensive damage to it caused by certain conditions makes some damage irreversible. If treatment or therapy proves unsuccessful and the liver can no longer function, a liver transplant may be the only option.

AALC is an important referral centre for treating acute liver failure. In 2002, AALC became the first private liver transplant centre in Asia to feature a highly successful Living Donor Liver Transplantation (LDLT) programme. LDLT is a procedure that involves a living donor who is willing to give a portion of his or her liver to a family member or close friend in need of a liver transplant. Waiting for a cadaveric donor liver can take a long time, especially for patients suffering with rapidly progressive diseases. Without LDLT, such patients can develop fatal complications.

In Asia, the prevalence of liver diseases like liver cancer is high, and there is an increasing demand for liver transplantation for patients with end-stage liver disease, not to mention a worldwide shortage of cadaveric livers with a long waiting list in every country. Hence, LDLT has become an effective option, particularly for those with acute liver failure and liver cancers like hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

One of the biggest advantages of LDLT over a cadaveric liver transplantation (CLT) is that the doctors can schedule the patient’s procedure. Thus, patients with compromised medical conditions can be optimised prior to transplant surgery in order to achieve better outcomes. Additionally, doctors can ensure that the quality of the liver graft is preserved since it is retrieved from a healthy donor, and the cold ischemic time (the time the donated liver has no blood supply) in LDLT is usually much shorter.

At AALC, a highly experienced team of medical specialists performs LDLT for both adult and paediatric patients. Stringent measures are taken to thoroughly vet a donor’s suitability for each patient as the safety of both the donor and the recipient are extremely important.

The AALC team uses state-of-the-art technology from MeVis Distant Services (MDS), a company based in Germany. This technology allows the doctors to reconstruct the liver anatomy of the donor accurately from CT scans. AALC is the only medical centre in Southeast Asia using such technology regularly. As Dr. Tan relates, “we at AALC are proud to be the first in Southeast Asia to help develop and implement this technology, and it has enabled our team of medical experts to save even more lives,”

Having performed their first living donor liver transplantation in 2002, AALC has successfully conducted more than 200 LDLTs – a milestone for Asia’s first private medical centre. It is now one of the largest and most experienced centres performing such a procedure. The key to success has been a well-trained and experienced team in both ICU and general ward settings.

As with everything in life, being prepared is half the battle won. Even though liver transplant patients are not common, they are routine patients in our liver unit. AALC has performed more than 200 such cases over the years and has treated many more with complications from their liver transplant. Every member of the team has become an expert in their own right and has valuable contributions to the success of every patient.

The liver unit has also become one of the top centres in the world for managing liver failure patients before liver transplant. It acts as a bridge before patients have to undergo surgery by utilising state-of-the-art liver dialysis support for critically ill patients. It is one of the most experienced centres in the world to date. Again, this is a testament to the overall team expertise, in managing such complex cases successfully.

AALC co-manages a dedicated liver ward and ICU, known as the Parkway Asian Transplant Unit (PATU) at Gleneagles Hospital Singapore. At PATU, patients receive personalised medical care by AALC’s team. More than 90 percent of patients treated at AALC are from abroad.
Excellence in CarePATU comprises 12 patient rooms fully equipped with modern amenities such as a private bathroom, mini-bar, fridge and TV, as well as in-house services like laundry and daily food menus. More importantly, PATU has seven ICUs with sophisticated medical equipment, for patients who require critical care and regular monitoring. PATU’s excellent clinical outcomes have been internationally recognised, making the unit one of Singapore’s leading medical assets.

“Due to various cultural, religious, and social reasons, cadaveric organ donation is almost non-existent throughout Asia. LDLT enables suitable living donors to give a portion of their livers to patients in need,” says Dr. Tan. “The LDLT programme (at AALC) empowers patients and medical professionals with greater understanding and control over every stage of treatment.” “We are immensely privileged to have Gleneagles Hospital as our medical partner for more than 20 years,” he adds. “This collaboration is a testament to our institutions’ strengths in clinical excellence, technology and healthcare innovation.”

The AALC is a subsidiary of the Asian American Medical Group (AAMG), which also established the Asian American Radiation Oncology (AARO) clinic in 2015.

AARO provides specialised radiation therapy and cancer treatment as well as management and advisory services to radiation oncology units in Asia.

In October 2012, AAMG entered into a strategic collaboration with The University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre (UPMC), a US$12billion integrated global health enterprise.

This collaboration has enhanced AAMG’s clinical capabilities through shared protocols, rigorous quality standards and technology, creating a platform for AAMG to expand into other countries such as Malaysia, Myanmar, Russia and China.

Excellence in Care

For more information,
Tel: (65) 6476-2088
Fax: (65) 6476-3088



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