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Rare Liver Transplant with Child is Successful

July 27, 2007

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Last month, doctors at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh performed a domino transplant, a rare liver transplant operation, on a 9 year-old boy. Learn more about this successful operation, as well as what a domino transplant is and why it’s so rare.

Pittsburgh hospital performs rare liver transplant

www.phillyburbs.com
The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH – A 9-year-old boy suffering from a rare liver disease received a donor liver and then had his old liver transplanted into a 24-year-old man in a rare operation known as a domino transplant.

Doctors at Children’s hospital of Pittsburgh said the surgery performed late last month was a success and marked the first time the hospital has performed a domino transplant with a child.

The procedure gets its name because the transplants are done sequentially, with the first recipient getting an organ from a deceased donor and then his organ being transplanted into a second recipient.

Johnathan Devantier, 9, of St. Louis, was diagnosed as a newborn with maple syrup urine disease, in which the body can’t process certain amino acids. He received a donor liver and his old liver was transplanted into Ali Al-Garni, of Saudi Arabia, who suffers from a genetic disease that can cause liver failure.

Devantier’s maple syrup urine disease was not passed to the other recipient in the surgery, said Dr. George V. Mazariegos, director of pediatric transplantation at the hospital’s Hillman Center for Pediatric Transplantation. The disease does not originate in the liver, but instead is caused by a lack of enzymes in the body, making a domino transplant possible, he said.

“Domino transplants are rare because there are very few conditions for which you can cure one patient with a transplant and then transplant his or her organ into someone else without passing on the disease,” Mazariegos said. “MSUD is one such disease.”

The procedure was the third domino transplant ever involving a patient with maple syrup urine disease, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. More than 65 domino liver transplants have been performed in the U.S.

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