Doctors in USA
have been trying out a new method of partial liver transplantation, called
Auxillary partial orthotopic liver transplantation, which has shown lot of
promise especially in children.
The method is based on two known facts - Liver has a
tremendous ability to regenerate and children's organs heal much faster than
adults. When small children suffer from acute liver failure doctors offer
the parents, partial liver transplantation as an option.
What this means, is that since the liver regenerates, they
remove only part of the child's liver and attach only part of the donor's liver
so that the liver can do the job while the child's own liver starts
regenerating. We all know that when a transplant happens the patient is
given strong doses of immuno suppressants to accept the new organ. In this new
procedure, the immuno suppressants are slowly withdrawn thus, on one hand the
original liver regenerates and on the other hand, the foreign donor organ is
attacked by the child's own immune system and slowly destroyed.
That way, there is a beautifully orchestrated
transplantation where the donated organ functions only till the child's organ
regenerates and sort of leaves when its job is done. The procedure takes the
body's own immune system into the equation and gives back the body to its
natural course. This regeneration can take from 1 year onwards. Only in few
cases has the liver failed to regenerate.
It is a big relief for parents that their child can have as
normal childhood as other children without lifelong dosage of immuno
suppressants that expose the body to infections, even cancer and have a healthy
life. The cost to be incurred for these drugs is yet another cause for relief!
But not all children can qualify for this operation,
since the procedure is much longer, which needs large amount of intravenous
fluid thus exposing the child to brain swelling and is more risky and difficult
compared to the usual liver transplantation.