Teen and Mom Doing Well After Unusual Liver Transplant

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Gaining National Reputation

For Transplant Innovation

Sep 19, 2000, 01:00 ET from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

    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
 www.choa.org .

SOURCE Children's Healthcare of Atlanta