The world's first two reported successful attempts to transplant parts of the same liver into different patients are big steps toward overcoming the chronic donor organ shortage, doctors said.

Dr. Henri Bismuth, a liver transplant surgeon at Paul Brousse Hospital in Paris, reported here this week that he had no choice but to divide the liver of a 40-year-old brain-dead man for two women, both unconscious and near death.The procedure, performed May 1, is believed to be the second in the world, according to Dr. Christoph E. Broelsch, professor of surgery at the University of Chicago. The previous transplant was performed in February in West Germany.

"This is one way to increase the donors. If you have patients who are terribly ill and in equal need, it's one way out," said the University of Pittsburgh's Dr. Thomas E. Starzl, who performed the world's first successful liver transplant in 1967.

About 450 people are now awaiting liver transplants in the United States, according to Arthur Harrell of the American Council on Transplantation. About half are children.

About 450 people are awaiting liver transplants in the United States, according to Arthur Harrell of the American Council on Transplantation. About half are children.

In this month's transplant, the donor had been rushed to France from Switzerland and was a suitable match for either the 40- or 54-year-old woman.

Bismuth told about 100 physicians gathered in Pittsburgh for a conference on liver disease that both of his patients' transplanted livers are functioning well.