INDIA: 5-year-old from Zimbabwe undergoes successful liver transplant

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New Delhi: A five-year-old boy from Zimbabwe who was suffering from respiratory failure due to oxygen bypassing his lungs successfully underwent a liver transplant at Gurugram’s Artemis Hospital.

According to the hospital, the child was showing symptoms like recurrent chest infection, pneumonia, breathing difficulty, weight loss, and jaundice.

In October last year, he was diagnosed with a rare condition called hepatopulmonary syndrome that affects the lungs of those with advanced liver disease. The doctors also revealed that the child was also suffering from liver cirrhosis and elevated pressure in the vein that led to the liver.

“Major volume of his blood bypassed the capillaries of his lungs and was not getting mixed with oxygen. As a result, his condition was so serious that an oxygen cylinder was needed all the time,” the hospital said in a statement.

“When we examined the child we found that it was a case of a very high level of oxygen bypass. The child’s shunt fraction was just 67 percent. We have never seen such poor levels of blood oxygenation in India before.

“A liver transplant was immediately needed to save the child,” Dr. Giriraj Bora, Chief – Liver Transplant & Sr. Consultant – GI & HPB Surgery, Artemis Hospital, Gurugram who led the surgery said during a press conference on Monday.

The shunt fraction is the percentage of blood pumped out by the heart that is not oxygenated in the human body. In this child’s case, this figure was dangerously low.

When the patient arrived at the hospital, doctors decided to use a special ventilator for delivering nitric oxide to prevent further decline of the boy’s oxygen levels. As the family couldn’t afford the treatment and other expenses, the management supported the family on humanitarian grounds, the hospital claimed in its press statement. The boy’s 53-year-old maternal uncle donated his liver.

“After the transplant, he does not need oxygen cylinders anymore and he is breathing normally. He will remain on drugs to suppress his immune system and prevent rejection of the liver by his body, but the dose will decrease over time. The child was admitted for 26 days,” Bora said.