Australian transplant patient makes medical history


Sydney : An Australian liver-transplant patient has made medical history by spontaneously switching over to the immune system of her donor, doctors said Thursday.

Support TwoCircles

When 15-year-old Demi-Lee Brennan received her donor’s kidney five years ago, her blood type was O, Rh-negative. Since then, it’s changed to O, Rh-positive, the blood group of her donor.

Even more amazing is that stem cells from her new liver have penetrated her bone marrow, effectively resulting in a bone-marrow transplant.

“We were stunned, absolutely stunned, and also very puzzled,” Michael Stormon of Sydney’s Westmead Children’s Hospital told reporters.

“We consulted widely throughout the hospital and then looked at the medical literature and consulted colleagues around the world to see if anyone had seen this kind of thing before. No one had, so we were stunned and amazed,” Stormon said.

Brennan was given the customary drugs to prevent her body rejecting the liver of her 12-year-old male donor who died of a brain disorder.

When she was examined nine months after her liver failed and the new organ was transplanted, doctors were able to discontinue the immuno-suppression medication because it wasn’t needed.

Despite Brennan not taking anti-rejection drugs for four years, her liver functions are normal, and she has no symptoms of the immune cells of the donated liver attacking those of their host.

“We’re not sure the reasons behind why this has happened, but it may be that a complex range of circumstances have aligned to bring it about,” Stormon said. “Now the task is to find out what those are so we can replicate them and allow other transplant patients to have such a complete acceptance.”