Life-threatening liver disease.
Liver transplant success.
Michael was just a few weeks old when he was diagnosed with biliary atresia, a rare condition that affects one in 10,000 newborns. In these cases, the infant is born with a clogged biliary tree which causes bile to collect in the liver, leading to liver cirrhosis, severe malnutrition and ultimately death if not aggressively managed.
Specialists at CHAM knew that Michael’s only chance at life was a liver transplant and he was immediately listed with the United Network for Organ Sharing. His doctors were still left with the challenge, however, of maintaining his health until a viable donor liver became available.
To help improve Michael’s chances, CHAM surgeons performed the Kasai procedure to bypass the clogged biliary tree and alleviate the strain on his liver by allowing bile to drain into the intestine. Unfortunately, the procedure – which has only a 50 percent success rate – didn’t work.
As an alternative, CHAM gastroenterologists sustained Michael by giving him small amounts of infant formula through a tube in his stomach.
While Michael was undergoing his treatments, his father was being simultaneously tested to determine if he could serve as a living donor for his son, should a suitable donor liver not be found in time.
After eight months of waiting, the green light was given and Michael and his father were taken in to surgery. Michael’s diseased liver was replaced with a portion of the left lobe from his father’s liver which had been removed only minutes prior in the adjacent operating room.
The case was a complete success and heralded CHAM’s entrée into pediatric living donor transplantation.
Just a few months following his surgery, Michael is a totally different child. He is eating well and gaining weight. While he does have some developmental delays due to his prolonged illness he is gaining ground quickly with the help of physical therapy.
Within six or seven weeks of the surgery, his father’s liver had regenerated and he was able to return to work full time.
Cases such as this, demonstrate how CHAM physicians and surgeons from multiple specialties are coming together to offer advanced treatments and procedures that improve and ultimately save children’s lives.
Learn more about the Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition