IN RECOVERY: A 25-day-old boy developed a condition that could be deadly and underwent a nearly nine-hour operation after his mother donated part of her liver
By Lin Hui-chin / Staff reporter
Taipei Veterans General Hospital （TVGH） yesterday announced that it last month performed two liver transplants that set national records for the youngest patients — a 25-day-old boy in Taiwan and an 11-month-old girl in Vietnam — to receive such surgery.
The boy, surnamed Chang （張）, was diagnosed with neonatal hemochromatosis by doctors at National Cheng Kung University Hospital in Tainan when he was 15 days old and weighed 3.5kg.
As Chang displayed symptoms of fulminant hepatic failure, making a liver transplant urgent, the hospital transferred him to the Taipei hospital for further treatment, Veterans Division of Pediatric Surgery head Liu Chin-su （劉君恕） said.
Neonatal hemochromatosis results from an intra-uterine antibody that targets a baby’s liver cells and leads to iron deposits in the liver or other tissues, which could be deadly, Liu said.
A baby born with the disorder might display symptoms of liver failure, including low blood sugar levels, impaired blood coagulation, jaundice, abnormal accumulation of fluids, low urine output, or even multiple organ failure, necessitating immediate liver surgery, he said.
Prior to Chang’s surgery, a team of doctors treated him with intravenous immunoglobulin and repeated hemodialysis to make sure his condition was stable enough to receive a transplant, he added.
On April 15, the mother — who was still under postpartum care at the time — donated part of her left liver to the boy, Liu said.
After a nearly nine-hour surgery, the boy is recovering and would be allowed to leave the hospital in a few days, he said.
TVGH doctors on April 1 visited a children’s hospital in Hanoi to perform a similar surgery on an 11-month-old girl surnamed Chen （陳）, who had liver failure after contracting a rare disease, progressive familial Intrahepatic cholestasis type 2.
The parents of a boy surnamed Chang yesterday hold him during a news conference at Taipei Veterans General Hospital, where he last month received a liver transplant from his mother. Photo: Lin Hui-chin, Taipei Times