Like most children her age, two-year-old Yasmin is difficult to hold down.

Only two months ago, Yasmin was not the same. Diagnosed with Hepatitis A infection that led to acute liver failure, the child suffered hepatic coma and was put on ventilator support at a hospital in Oman. Doctors referred her to Global Hospital in Chennai and 15 days later, she was brought to the city by air ambulance. Doctors conducted the necessary tests and found that just two per cent of her liver cells were functional.

Her uncle agreed to donate a portion of his liver and on April 21, a transplant was done by a team of six doctors over a period of 10 hours. Post-surgery, Yasmin was put on ventilator for a month as the remaining portion of her liver was releasing toxins, said paediatric hepatologist Naresh P. Shanmugam. Within four days, her liver function returned to normal. Two months after surgery, 10 per cent of her native liver had become functional.

Liver is an organ that can regenerate itself. While the native liver recuperates, the donated portion of the organ carries out the functions of the infected part. “We removed a half of the native liver from the patient and transplanted a small portion of the donor liver through a procedure called auxiliary liver transplant,” said transplant surgeon Mohamed Rela.

He added that acute liver failure due to Hepatitis A infection is rare at such a young age.

As the native liver regains its capacity to function, the patient is taken off immuno-suppression drugs and the donor liver shrivels. Though Yasmin will return to Oman next week, doctors will continue to monitor her progress. According to Dr. Rela, Yasmin may be taken off medication in six months’ time by when her liver would have recovered.

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Chennai City ColumnsSeptember 24, 2010

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