Newborn’s liver operation a first

Newborn’s liver operation a first

RECOVERING WELL:The boy was only 52 days old when he was given a liver transplant after being diagnosed with a rare maternal-fetal autoimmune disease

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan on Wednesday announced that its first liver transplant for a newborn was a success. The baby boy was reported to be recovering well after his operation in November last year.

The baby, born prematurely in October, was admitted to National Cheng Kung University Hospital (NCKU) in Tainan due to poor appetite, edema and low blood sugar several weeks after his birth, NCKU pediatrician Lin Yuh-jyh (林永傑) said at a news conference.

The patient was suffering from liver failure and was diagnosed with a rare maternal-fetal autoimmune disease called hemochromatosis.

Hemochromatosis in newborns is caused by an antibody that forms in the mother during pregnancy, Lin said, adding that the antibody then attacks the liver cells of the fetus, and causes iron to accumulate in the liver and other organs.

Without a liver transplant, the fatality rate is almost 100 percent, Lin said.

However, the patient was only 45 days old and weighed only four kilograms when he was diagnosed.

“It was highly challenging to put him on the operating table,” Lin said.

Determined to save the baby nonetheless, Lin sought out Liu Chin-su (劉君恕), head of the Division of Pediatric Surgery at Taipei Veterans General Hospital, and they decided to perform the transplant.

Liu said that his hospital then put together a team of pediatric and plastic surgeons and other pediatricians, and they determined that the donated liver tissue would come from the baby’s father.

Given that the father’s liver and blood vessels were much bigger than those of his son, the team had to plan the procedure with a model made from a 3D printer, Liu said.

The transplant was performed successfully in 12 hours on the 52nd day after the patient’s birth, making it the first case of its kind in Taiwan.


(Source of the materials: TAIPEI TIMES)