NRI boy gets liver, kidney in rare surgery


New Delhi : A 15-year-old Indian-American boy underwent a simultaneous liver and kidney transplant at a city hospital here, which the attending doctors claimed Tuesday was the first such in the world.

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California-based Ganesh Nehru was suffering from a disease known as primary Hyperoxaluria, in which the liver lacks an enzyme resulting in accumulation of calcium in the kidneys, bones, heart and pancreas. Patients suffering from the disease usually die by their mid-30s.

He underwent the rare surgery at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital here on April 17.

A team of 50 doctors and support staff at the hospital took a kidney from Ganesh's mother, Hemalata, and half a liver from his maternal uncle Mohan in a simultaneous operation and transplanted it on to the boy.

The surgery took almost 18 hours and cost the family Rs.1.9 million.

"We conducted the procedures simultaneously in three operation theatres. In one, the patient was kept while the live donors were in the other two," said senior surgeon A.S. Soin, who led the team of surgeons.

"First we took the right half of the donor's liver and transplanted it on Ganesh. In the meanwhile, the kidney was removed from the second donor and transplanted on the patient. This is the world's first dual live donor transplant on such a patient," Soin told reporters.

Three weeks after the surgery, Ganesh is on his way to recovery. Dressed in a yellow T-Shirt and brown trousers, the 9th standard student of the Years Buna School, San Jose, California, is raring to return to school.

"There is a little sprain on my belly but I am fine otherwise. I want to go back as soon as possible," said Ganesh, whose father is a software engineer in the US.

Sanjiv Saigal, a senior doctor, said the patient was put through dialysis and his blood circulation controlled with a machine after the operation, instead of putting the load on the newly transplanted organs.

"What was most challenging was to control the blood pressure. In case of high blood pressure, a huge blood loss occurs, but we kept the blood pressure under control and saved blood loss in a major way," said Neelam Mohan, another paediatric haematologist.

Highlighting the problems he faced during the surgery, Soin said: "The first challenge, among the many we faced, was to select two suitable donors – one each for kidney and liver. We opted for two live donors as it is ethical as well as convenient to the donors."

Ganesh will be in the hospital for three more months before he is able to resume normal life.