27 August 2018

ISMETT: baby girl saved by a living-donor liver transplant

ISMETT: baby girl saved by a living-donor liver transplant

Baby girl who was not supposed to be born is saved by a liver transplant performed at ISMETTEight-month old baby with biliary atresia and some congenital heart disorders evident when still in her mother’s womb is saved by a liver transplant performed at ISMETT.  Before doctors had advised an abortion because chances of surviving were very slim.

This story started when Veronica learned that the baby in her womb suffered from a severe heart disease that would not allow her to live. The only possible alternative was abortion. But a mother can never surrender, so Veronica left her country of origin, Moldavia, in search of a second opinion and, above all, hope. Also in Turkey, doctors offered her no solution. Veronica then decided to go to Italy, to Rome, where doctors confirmed that the case was very complex with very few chances of survival. When Letizia was born, she was already in very critical condition.  She was transferred to the Bambin Gesù Hospital, in Rome, and at the age of four months underwent her first heart surgery.  The surgery was technically successful but the baby worsened immediately after.   She was diagnosed with biliary tract atresia, a disease leading to liver failure.   Her conditions increasingly worsened, and she had to spend her first eight months of life in the hospital.  She weighed only 8 kg.

While in the hospital, Veronica met the mother of another hospitalized child, who told her about an expert on this type of disease: Dr. Jean de Ville De Goyet, Director of the Department for the Treatment and Study of Pediatric Abdominal Diseases and Abdominal Transplantation at ISMETT, in Palermo.  He is considered one of the most expert physicians for pediatric abdominal surgery and liver transplantation.  Throughout his career he has performed more than 500 pediatric transplants, with a nearly 100% success rate in the case of living-donor transplants. Veronica contacted Dr. De Ville right away.  The baby arrived in Palermo in dire conditions. Because of her liver’s poor functions, she could not breathe autonomously, and cardiac failure was also evident.   Dr. De Ville decided to perform a liver transplant to try to save Letizia.  Veronica made herself immediately available for donating part of her liver. “Letizia’s case was an extremely complex one,” said Professor de Ville de Goyet. “The baby had several congenital abnormalities, including biliary tract atresia and other vascular issues, and above all, a double defect in the portal vein, which was in an abnormal anatomic position, with a reduced caliber.” Given the baby’s critical conditions the team led by Professor de Ville decided to combine two surgical procedures: abdominal bypass and liver transplantation “In order to perform the transplant we had to combine a couple of surgical techniques: Meso-Rex bypass for reconstructing the portal vein and a longitudinal enlargement of the portal vein to prevent thromboses associated with liver transplantation.”

Letizia is now well and has been discharged. She will spend another few days in Italy and will then return to Moldavia, where she will celebrate her first year of life. “In her first ten months of life my daughter never left the hospital,” says Veronica.  “She had never seen a garden, a house, something different than intensive care rooms or hospital units.  Only in Palermo, after the transplant, she could know life outside of a hospital.  She could see the sea, trees and the sky.  I can’t stop thanking Professor De Ville, ISMETT, and all the medical and nursing team who followed my child.  She is a little miracle to me.”