Liver Facts

  • The liver is the largest internal and most metabolically complex organ in humans.

  • The liver performs over 500 different functions including fighting off infection, neutralizing toxins, manufacturing proteins and hormones, controlling blood sugar and helping to clot the blood.

  • The liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself thus making it possible for one person to donate part of their liver to another person. When a portion of the liver is transplanted, the donor's liver will regenerate back to its original size while the transplanted portion will grow to the appropriate size for the recipient.

  • The Greek word for liver is 'hepar' -­ that's why medical terms related to the liver often start in 'hepato'- or 'hepatic'.

  • At any one time, the liver contains about 10% of the blood in your body and it pumps about 1.4 litres through per minute.

  • Dr. Thomas E. Starzl performed the first human liver transplant in 1963 at the University of Colorado Medical School; however, lack of effective immunosuppressive drugs limited the success. Four years later, the availability of more effective immunosuppressives enabled Dr. Starzl to perform the first successful liver transplant.

  • The first liver transplant in Canada was performed by Dr. Pierre Daloze in Montreal, Quebec in 1970.

  • For the Greeks, the liver was considered the seat of the emotions. They practised something called 'hepatoscopy' which involved sacrificing oxen or goats and examining their livers to determine whether their military campaigns would succeed or fail. The Greeks viewed the liver as being the organ in closest contact with divinity.