Doctors in Vietnam have successfully performed a liver transplant on an 18-month-old patient with terminal cancer for the first time.
The difficult surgery was jointly carried out by doctors from the Vietnam National Children’s Hospital and the 108 Military Central Hospital in Hanoi.
The baby girl hailing from Hanoi was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a very rare malignant tumor, in her 11th month after birth.
Her cancer was already at the terminal stage upon detection, according to Dr. Nguyen Pham Anh Hoa, head of the hepatology department, and Dr. Bui Ngoc Lan, head of the oncology department at the Vietnam National Children’s Hospital.
At that time, the tumor grew so large and occupied most of the child’s liver volume that removing it was impossible, as there would be too little healthy liver left.
Despite her undergoing six courses of chemotherapy and embolization, the patient’s tumor was still growing rapidly, posing a high risk of metastasis.
Treatments applied by doctors were not optimal in the hope of controlling the tumor growth and increasing the volume of the remaining healthy liver parts so that the tumor can be resected.
The volume of the liver tumor remained unchanged while its malignancy increased day by day, threatening the patient’s life with high possibilities of adverse complications.
After a consultation, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Minh Dien, director of the Vietnam National Children’s Hospital, decided to coordinate with the 108 Military Central Hospital to perform a liver transplant on the child patient.
The liver donor is her 41-year-old mother.
In order to minimize the immune adverse reactions caused by blood type incompatibility, hepatologists not only used pre-transplant medical therapies but also prepared prevention options for post-transplant rejection reactions.
Regardless of the technical difficulties and the shortage of human resources, blood and blood products in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pediatric liver transplant surgery was successful.
The patient was discharged two weeks after the liver transplant.
This is the first-ever liver transplant for a child suffering liver cancer in Vietnam.