Baby with New Liver "Reborn" at SAHZU

Author:JING LI | Reviewer:JING LI | Editor:JING LI | Source: | Date:2021-01-27 | Views:


At the begining, Xiaojie's parents didn't pay much attention on their son's yellow skin when he was only days old, thought it to be just infant jaundice. When Xiaojie was three-month old, however, he was much shorter and weighed much less than other infants because of malnutrition - he often spit up milk and couldn't finish a 100 ml bottle of milk. His appetite kept decreasing until he barely ate anything.

Xiaojie was then diagnosed with biliary atresia, a blockage in the bile duct that stops bile from travelling to the gallbladder from the liver to digest food. To treat his jaundice, Xiaojie underwent the Kasai Procedure, a first-line operation for biliary atresia where the damaged bile ducts will be removed and replaced by a loop from the infant's intestines. Although the operation was successful, but Xiaojie's liver has been damaged by bile. The infant has to have a new liver. Otherwise, he may die. 

But liver transplant, for a rural family like Xiaojie's, is such a heavy economic burden that almost crushed the young parents.  

Luckily, a shred of light of hope appeared in front of them, when they heard about the Pediatric Liver Transplant Foundation, cofounded by SAHZU and the Zhejiang University Education Foundation, offering medical and financial help to pediatric patients in late stage of liver diseases that require liver transplants.

Knowing this exciting news, the desperate parents brought their 10-month old son, Xiaojie, to SAHZU all the way from western China of Guizhou province.

Xiaojie was quickly admitted into SAHZU's HPB department. Because of his critical condition, SAHZU surgeons advised Xiaojie to receive a living-related donor liver. Xiaojie's father turned out to be a perfect match. The transplant surgery was very successful. Shortly after the surgery, color of Xiaojie's skin and eye became normal and he didn't spit up milk anymore. When Xiaojie came back for follow-up examination one year later, he was a healthy and happy toddler with no sign of having been critically ill at all.

"Among all kinds of organ transplant, liver transplant is a special one," says Prof. WANG Weilin, the chief surgeon of Xiaojie and a prominent expert of liver transplant at SAHZU, "The criteria for live donation of liver is relatively lower. The transplant is highly possible as long as the donor has a compatible blood type with the recipient. And the liver can grow new tissues to heal itself. Both the donor’s and recipient’s liver will be able to grow back to normal size after the surgery."

According to statistics, one in every 8,000 to 16,000 newborn babies in China suffers from biliary atresia. It is a severe condition that mainly affects infant's digestive system where the patient's liver will be gradually damaged by bile built up in the blocked duct. "The only cure for these patients is to have liver transplant," says Prof. WANG.

Since July 10, 2019 when the first living donor pediatric liver transplant was successfully completed by Prof. WANG’s team, a total of 109 cases of liver transplant were operated at SAHZU with 97% one-year survival rate. Among them, 46 are pediatric liver transplant with 100% one-year survival rate.

Established in 2019, the Pediatric Liver Transplant Foundation is to help pediatric patients with biliary atresia or metabolic liver diseases in the whole country that demand liver transplant. As of Jan 14 2021, the foundation has covered the financial needs of 43 pediatric patients.