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
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
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
SOURCE Children's Healthcare of Atlanta