ATLANTA, Sept. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- A 13-year-old Cedartown boy and his mother are doing well after an unusual liver transplant that is the first of its kind in Georgia. Pediatric medical experts at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, where the groundbreaking surgery was performed on Destin Wright Sept. 5, say that the procedure gives new hope for children and teens with liver disease. Both mother and son are already recuperating at home. Doctors have only recently started performing liver transplants with live donors due to the high-risk nature of the procedure. The vast majority of transplants utilize organs from cadavers. Up to now, most live-donor transplants have been done with the left side of the liver since this is considered to be a less-risky procedure. This latest surgery, called a right side hepatectomy, took 65 percent of the right side of the Mother's liver, which is larger. "This latest transplant is significant because it will help us do more live-donor liver transplants to children of all ages. Previously, a child Destin's size -- about 165 pounds -- would have competed with adult liver patients waiting for organ donors," said Dr. Thomas Heffron, M.D., program director, adult and pediatric transplants, at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University Hospital. "We are excited about the promise of this technique because there is such a shortage of healthy cadaveric livers out there." According to Dr. Heffron, "The remarkable thing is that the liver can regenerate to its normal size within eight weeks. In addition, early transplantation provides improved success rates with fewer complications. This occurs because the patient is not as debilitated from the long-standing liver disease, which progresses when the patient must wait for a cadaveric liver," he said. Since 1990 there has been a dramatic increase in people with Hepatitis C, a virus that weakens the liver. This trend has resulted in a significant demand for healthy cadaveric livers. That's why Dr. Heffron and his colleagues believe that live-donor liver transplants will continue to increase. Children's Healthcare of Atlanta is one of only a handful of centers performing live donor transplants in the U.S. The Children's team performed its first live-donor liver transplant in March of 1997 on Russell Barnett, a 3-year-old boy. Since then, experts there have performed 13 similar surgeries. This year alone, Dr. Heffron has completed six of these procedures on infants to teens. Overall, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta has done 78 liver transplants since early 1997. Interestingly, Dr. Heffron, who joined the staff at Children's and Emory in 1997, participated in the world's first series of living-donor liver transplants 11 years ago in Chicago. Children's Healthcare of Atlanta is dedicated to enhancing the lives of children through excellence in patient care, research, and education. Children's addresses the unique needs of sick and injured children and their families with specially trained physicians and staff, equipment designed for young, growing bodies and a child-friendly environment. Children's has been recognized for excellence in cardiology, cancer treatment, craniofacial surgery, emergency medicine, orthopaedics, rehabilitation and transplantation services among many other pediatric services. With 400 beds in two hospitals, Children's is one of the largest pediatric healthcare systems in the country. Through extensive community outreach programs and partnerships with other providers, businesses and corporations, we strive to ensure that wellness and prevention programs are accessible to families across the state. As a non- profit organization, we benefit from the generous philanthropic and volunteer support of our community and state. For information on our programs, services and volunteer opportunities call 404-250-kids or visit our Web site at www.choa.org .
SOURCE Children's Healthcare of Atlanta