Second youngest organ donor in Mumbai helps 5-yr-old get a new life

A two-and-a-half-year-old girl became the second youngest organ donor in Mumbai, according to the Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre (ZTCC), after her parents donated the girl’s liver to another child after she was declared braindead due to a chronic kidney ailment.

A child who was two years and two months old, recorded in 2019, was the youngest donor in Mumbai so far.

The girl who was declared braindead at Bandra’s Lilavati Hospital was on artificial life support. A patient is declared braindead when she suffers permanent damage to the brain and needs machines in order to stay alive.

The girl’s parents agreed to donate her organs to save the lives of other needy children, according to officials.

“They were extremely supportive and were even ready to donate her heart and lungs. But when we did an ECHO, we found out that due to her deteriorated health condition, the other organs weren’t suitable for harvest,” said Lt Gen (Dr) V Ravishankar, Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Lilavati Hospital. Ultimately, her liver and corneas were retrieved on July 19. At Lilavati, she is the youngest organ donor, said Ravishankar.

The girl’s liver was transplanted to a five-year-old girl who was undergoing treatment at Nanavati Hospital for Tyrosinemia Type 1 that led to liver cirrhosis, portal hypertension, renal tubular acidosis (kidney damage) and bone deformity accompanied by growth failure.

Dr Vibhor Vinayak Borkar, director of paediatric hepatology and gastroenterology at Nanavati Hospital, said, “It is a rare inborn error of metabolism in which there is elevated levels of tyrosine (an essential amino acid). Due to this defect, tyrosine is not metabolised in the body and elevated levels affect multiple organs like liver, nervous system and kidneys. Untreated disease leads to early liver cancer which is uniformly fatal.”

Dr Anurag Shrimal, director of liver, pancreas and intestine transplantation at Nanavati Hospital, said that due to her compromised metabolism, she weighed just 16 kilograms, like a three-year-old child. “She would never have a normal life without the transplant. Infact, the life expectancy in such cases is only limited to a few years,” he said.

With the liver transplant, she would now be able to lead a normal life with regular growth like other kinds of her age, the doctor said. However, she will have to continue taking immunosuppressants life-long to avoid her body rejecting the transplanted organ.

The recipient child’s father is also suffering from Hodgkin’s lymphoma—a cancer of the immune system that develops from abnormal B-cells. “The family has been through a lot. But luckily, within 10 days of getting admitted at our hospital, the child got a donor, which is quite rare especially for a paediatric patient,” said Dr Shrimal.

Last month, parents of a three-year-old boy donated his heart, liver and kidneys. He is the third youngest donor in Mumbai so far.

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