Doctors in Ho Chi Minh City said this week they had successfully carried out a liver transplant on a 16-month-old boy, with the donor being his 56-year-old grandfather.
This is Vietnam’s first-ever liver transplant in which the donor is the patient’s grandparent.
The surgery also broke the country’s record in terms of age gap between the donor and recipient.
The young patient, D.C.M., was born when his mother was only six months pregnant.
M. was being treated for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) when doctors discovered he also suffered from congenital liver atrophy.
The boy underwent a Kasai procedure, a surgery to treat or correct biliary atresia in infants, but his condition did not improve.
He was admitted to the Children’s Hospital 2 in District 1 when he was 16 months old with serious symptoms including pneumonia, end-stage liver failure, respiratory failure, and jaundice.
Following unsuccessful treatments, doctors at the infirmary agreed that a liver transplant would be the only way to keep the young boy alive.
M.’s father wanted to be the donor, but his liver was not suitable due to hepatic steatosis.
The boy’s grandfather, 56-year-old D.V.L., was the next to volunteer.
His liver was a match, but he was required to give up on smoking and drinking for two weeks before the surgery.
An operation was carried out to extract the liver, and L. was discharged from the hospital after ten days. His remaining liver will regenerate itself and return to its normal volume and capacity within about six months.
The transplant took place about two months ago and lasted approximately 15 hours.
This is the third liver transplant carried out at the Children’s Hospital 2 and was considered one of the most difficult cases.
The procedure was done by Dr. Tran Thanh Tri, head of the infirmary’s department of general surgery, and closely supervised by Prof. Tran Dong A, an experienced pediatrician, and experts from Belgium.
One of the biggest challenges faced by the surgeons was how small the baby’s abdomen was due to preterm birth.
The surgical team had to apply a method to enlarge his stomach, allowing him to adapt to the new liver.
Following the successful transplant, M., who is now 18 months old, has gained weight and is in good recovery.