In a remarkable medical achievement, Apollo Hospitals Ahmedabad has successfully performed a liver transplant on a 7-month-old male child, weighing just 5.5 kg. The feat is the first-ever liver transplant for an infant under the age of one in Gujarat and marks a significant milestone in the field of paediatrics liver transplantation in the state. An experienced team of healthcare experts has been roped in for the transplant which includes Prof. Darius Mirza, a stalwart with experience, having led a team in performing over 6,000 liver transplants across the globe. Prof. Mirza, Lead Liver Transplant Surgeon, western region, Apollo Group, joined Dr Chirag Desai, Senior Liver Transplant Surgeon, Dr. Pathik Parikh, Liver Transplant Physician, Dr. Pushkar Srivastava, Head of Department- Paediatrics intensivist and Neonatologist, along with a large, experienced team of specialists to offer the best quality care in the management of liver diseases and transplant in Gujarat.
The patient is a male child from Dwarka in Gujarat The child’s medical challenges began with the onset of jaundice within a few weeks of his birth. Unfortunately, the condition progressed rapidly, leading to irreversible liver damage due to a genetic disease known as Progressive Familial Intrahepatic Cholestasis (PFIC). Dr. Pathik Parikh (Senior Liver Transplant Physician), at Apollo Hospitals Ahmedabad, said, “When we diagnosed the child with PFIC, we knew there was no alternative but to perform a liver transplant to prevent further damage to other vital organs. The child’s parents who are also young adults, consented to the procedure on being explained the seriousness of their child’s condition.” Since the chance of getting a liver for such a young child is very low, the mother donated a portion of her liver for the transplant. The team at Apollo Hospitals Ahmedabad faced several challenges before, during and after the surgery due to the peculiar nature of the surgery.
One of the biggest challenges was the extremely small body. Meticulous surgical planning was required to ensure the child was nutritionally optimized to tolerate the 8–10-hour surgery. There were also financial constraints that were addressed by raising Rs. 16 lakhs from various sources, including the PM and CM relief funds, and NGOs. According to Dr. Pushkar Srivastava, Head of Department- paediatric Intensivist & Neonatologist at Apollo Hospitals Ahmedabad, the surgery also presented unique difficulties. “Children of such a young age present a unique challenge. Their blood vessels are very small, 1-2 mm in size, while supplying the entire organ after transplant and are very vulnerable to blockage which has to be prevented by blood thinner which increases the risk of bleeding in the post-operative period. Even the slightest blood loss is not tolerated by small babies this young. On top of that, babies who are inherently more prone to infections have to be given immune suppression medicine to prevent transplant rejection. Maintaining his heart rhythm was an additional challenge for this child. We came out with flying colours and this surgery put us all together in a different league as compared to other Liver Transplant Units in the State. Teamwork of people from various specialities, excellent nursing care and state of the art infrastructure of Apollo was vital for our success,” said Dr. Pushkar Srivastava.
Giving stitches on such small veins and ensuring blood flow continues is extremely challenging and the most critical part of the surgery. Even the most experienced surgeons can falter while performing this procedure, but the team at Apollo Hospitals Ahmedabad came through. A successful liver transplant was performed on the child on September 25, and he is now recovering well. “The child is feeding normally, and the yellow jaundice has disappeared. Our team is managing the post-surgery challenges, including immune suppression and nutrition care; it is still early days, and we expect the child to continue to improve” said Prof Dr Darius Mirza, the Lead Liver Transplant Surgeon, Western Region, Apollo Group at Apollo Hospitals Ahmedabad. The child was discharged from the hospital on Tuesday, a fortnight after the successful transplant, marking the beginning of a new and healthy chapter in his life.
Neeraj Lal, COO of Apollo Hospitals Ahmedabad, lauded the medical team for its remarkable achievement. “Prof Darius Mirza brings huge international experience which will benefit our patients. Our liver transplant team will offer quality care in liver disease management and transplantation. The successful liver transplant not only offers hope to the child and his family but also reflects the exceptional skills and dedication of our team in setting new benchmarks in healthcare,” Mr Lal added.