Adults who drink ‘three or four pints after work’ may need liver transplant, doctors warn

Adults who drink several pints a day after work are at risk of damaging their liver Adults who regularly drink more than four pints a day are at risk of needing a liver transplant , doctors warned today.

Experts at the Royal Free London hospital in Hampstead said it was a “common misconception” that only hardened drinkers were in danger of damaging their liver.

It came as the 2,000th patient to undergo a transplant at the hospital told of his shock that having “three or four pints of lager a night” caused cirrhosis of the liver.

David Edgell, 53, said: “I never missed work and I wouldn’t say I was ever really drunk and didn’t go to work with a hangover. In actual fact I’d stopped drinking a couple of months before I even became ill but it was too late.” Shocked: liver transplant patient David Edgell drank three or four pints a night (Adam Scott) About a quarter of the 2,000 transplants performed by the Royal Free in more than 30 years have been for alcohol-related liver disease.

The others have been for cancer, fatty liver disease, hepatitis C and autoimmune diseases. Dr Yiannis Kallis, honorary consultant transplant hepatologist at the Royal Free, said: “It’s a common misconception that the only people who end up in hospital with liver damage are the ones who have a bottle of Scotch on their bedside table or can’t get through the daytime without a drink, but actually that’s very much the minority.

“David is far more representative of the people we see. People who’ve developed a habitual unhealthy excessive drinking pattern and in the process irrevocably damage their liver.”

Mr Edgell, from Canning Town, worked for a fire protection company before becoming ill. He said he began drinking when his father and grandfather died in quick succession, followed by the loss of his mother and grandmother.

Rather than sitting at home alone, he would go to the pub for dinner and several pints of beer. The NHS guidelines are for no more than 14 units — about five or six pints — a week.

Mr Edgell said he was incredibly grateful to the family of his organ donor for giving him a “second chance” at life.

Patients whose livers have been damaged by alcohol are only listed for transplant once they have proved their commitment to giving up drink. The transplant operation happened just before Christmas.

Dr Kallis said advances in the availability and storage of donated livers meant patients were undergoing transplant more quickly. At present, they have a 15 per cent chance of dying while on a waiting list.

Professor Joerg-Matthias Pollok, consultant liver transplant surgeon and clinical lead for liver transplantation, said: “It’s a real landmark that we have reached our 2,000th transplant and I wish David well.”


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