It’s not alcoholics alone who suffer from liver diseases. Babies, too, suffer from it. While Bilary Atresia, a congenital condition where the bile ducts are defective may be the most common cause of liver failure in children, prolonged jaundice and underlying chronic liver diseases may also lead to the condition.
“The problem of liver diseases in children is fairly common in India. At least 40, 000 children die annually from terminal liver diseases,” said Dr A.S. Soin, chairman, department of liver transplantation at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SRGH).
Dr Soin completed his 50th liver transplant surgery in children — the highest for any centre in the country — on May 14. His 50th patient was a six-month-old baby May Khalil. " Approximately 2,000 paediatric liver transplants are required in our country annually. Of them, only 40 on an average are being performed at only few centres," said Dr Neelam Mohan, chief liver transplant physician at SRGH.
In Delhi, only three centres have facilities for live donor liver transplants — SRGH, Apollo Hospital and Army Hospital Research and Referral.
"There is such a joy to see my baby happy. Ever since she was born I have only seen her in pain,” said Mahday Khalil, 33, May's father, who works with the United Nations World Food Programme in Yemen. "We noticed her jaundiced eyes ever since she was a week old. But a few weeks later, the right side of her upper abdomen became really hard,” he said.
Baby Siya Thakur, now four years old, who was the first case of a domino liver transplant in the country, (in which two life-saving liver transplants are performed using one donor liver) is now ready to join her first school. Twenty-two-month old Shourya Verma got a part of his aunt's liver and donated his liver to Siya in February last year.
“It has truly been a life changing experience for us. I feel overjoyed seeing Siya enjoying her normal childhood,” said Swati Thakur, 36, her mother.
Even after her liver transplant last year, Siya had to undergo several sessions of chemotherapy.