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1 donor, 2 transplants

Sir Ganga Ram Hospital pulled off a country’s first this January 31 with two life-saving liver transplants done using one donor liver. Jaya Shroff Bhalla reports.

health and fitness Updated: Feb 20, 2009 01:18 IST
Jaya Shroff Bhalla

Sir Ganga Ram Hospital pulled off a country’s first this January 31 with two life-saving liver transplants done using one donor liver.

The domino operation, called so for its cascading effect on two lives, cured 22-month-old Shaurya Verma of the Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD) and saved two-year-old Siya Thakur of terminal liver failure. The MSUD is caused by the lack of a detoxifying enzyme in the body.

Shourya was given 20 per cent of his aunt Mukta Srivastava’s liver and his liver was given to Siya in a 16-hour-long operation.

“Patients with MSUD who receive a liver transplant are able to make enough of the enzyme in the new liver to overcome the shortage. In turn, an MSUD patient’s liver, which is otherwise entirely normal, can be transplanted into someone else without passing on the disease,” said Dr A.S. Soin, chief liver transplant surgeon and director of liver transplant at the hospital.

In other words, Shourya needed a transplant despite having a liver healthy enough to be given to Siya.

“The 12 per cent enzyme Shourya’s new liver will produce will compensate for the rest of the body not producing any. In Siya’s case, her body will compensate for the enzyme her new liver does not produce,” said Dr Neelam Mohan, chief paediatric hepatologist at Sir Gangaram Hospital.

Three operation theaters were used simultaneously for the surgery. First, the donor liver and then Shourya’s own liver were removed and prepared for transplant.

“The liver was transplanted into Shourya first, and then his liver was transplanted into Siya. Both the transplants kicked in immediately and the children are making excellent progress,” said Dr Soin.

Surgeons are also happy because the procedures saved Siya’s mother Swati from donating her liver to her daughter, as had been planned earlier.

“The happiest moment was to see Shaurya nibble into a bar of chocolate, which an MSUD patient can never do as they are on restricted diet. The timely surgery also ensures that the child will not suffer from neurological damage in his adolescence, which usually occurs in such patients,” said Dr Mohan.