It took surgeons 10 hours to save the life of 16-year-old Swati Verma (name changed) following a liver collapse after she swallowed rat poison.
The Goa resident’s liver transplantation was part of four back-to-back liver surgeries at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital.
The surgeries, which took 36 hours, were done by a team of 80 doctors and paramedics. The three other transplants were done on two children from Iraq and a woman from Pakistan.Four-year-old Kawther Maher from Iraq needed a new liver because she had cirrhosis. "Her elder brother had already died because of liver complications, a fact that made this surgery more sensitive," said Dr Subash Gupta, senior consultant liver transplant and gastro surgery, Apollo.
Another child from Iraq had biliary atresia, a complication in which the bile duct gets blocked, resulting in bile not being carried to the gallbladder.
“Since 1998, we have done 589 liver transplants at Apollo, including those of 60 children,” said Dr Anupam Sibal, paediatric hepatologist and group medical director, Apollo Hospitals.
India is a popular destination for transplants because of highly skilled doctors offering the surgery at a fraction of the cost in the West.
The liver performs almost 400 functions, including the production of bile juice to aid digestion, and glycogen for energy. Since it has a unique property of growing back to normal after being cut, the donor’s liver grows back to normal.
“The most common case of liver transplant is due to biliary atresia, a congenital defect that is present from birth,” said Dr Sibal. It’s the biggest cause among children needing liver transplants, he added.
The liver recipients have to take immuno-suppressant medicine throughout their lives to ensure their body does not reject the donated liver.