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Vietnam’s first liver transplant patient dies over 16 years after operation

Monday, November 30, 2020, 13:13 GMT+7
Vietnam’s first liver transplant patient dies over 16 years after operation
Nguyen Thi Diep is pictured in April 2019 when working at Military Hospital 103 in Hanoi, where she underwent her liver transplant in 2004. Photo: Xuan Long / Tuoi Tre

Vietnam’s first patient to undergo a liver transplant passed away on Sunday morning, more than 16 years after her successful operation.

Nguyen Thi Diep, 25, had been experiencing weight loss and fatigue caused by cirrhosis throughout 2020, as she spent most of the year in treatment at Military Hospital 103 in Hanoi waiting for her second liver transplant.

Diep, born in the northern province of Nam Dinh, had her first life-saving liver transplant in 2004, when she was only nine years old. 

She was born with congenital biliary atresia – a condition in which a child is born with one or more bile ducts of the liver abnormally narrow or blocked. 

At three, she went through a Kasai Procedure – a method to bypass these bile ducts – to help prevent damage to her liver.

By the time she was nine, her condition had worsened and she had been diagnosed with cirrhosis, prompting the need for a liver transplant, with the donor being her father, Nguyen Quoc Phong. 

Her operation was Vietnam’s first-ever liver transplant. 

It was conducted by doctors at Military Hospital 103, with the help of over 100 domestic and foreign medical experts.

The liver transplant was a great success and gave Diep a chance at a new life.

Diep went to school and was recruited by Military Hospital 103 in 2018 as a medical worker after her graduation.

However, the transplanted liver weakened after nearly 17 years, her family said in October.

Doctors said Diep remained optimistic while waiting for a second liver transplant.

But the miracle did not happen twice and she could not hold on.

Diep passed away in her hometown, located in Nam Dinh’s Hai Hau District, on Sunday morning, her father said. 

She had the longest life after a liver transplant surgery performed on any patient in Vietnam, according to Doctor Bui Van Manh, head of the intensive care unit at Military Hospital 103.

After Diep’s operation in 2004, liver transplants have become much more common at many hospitals in Vietnam.

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