Doctors at the University of Iowa this week talked for the first time about a groundbreaking operation that saved a newborn’s life at University Hospitals last winter. Kaylee Lindley is the world’s youngest living survivor of a liver transplant from a related donor. Liver specialist Doctor Warren Bishop says right after she was born at a Davenport hospital, it was clear something was wrong with the infant. She had no liver cells that they could detect — there were blood vessels and bile-duct cells but without any liver tissue her body couldn’t make clotting factors so she had trouble bleeding, and it wasn’t removing toxic waste products from her blood so she was jaundiced. The infant was terribly sick right from the start, and the University’s neo-natology department worked to keep her alive. He says there were no warning signs during her mother’s pregnancy, though her growth before birth tracked by ultrasound had slowed a bit, but there were no signs until the problem became apparent after her birth. A team of surgeons at the University were ready to give her newborn a liver transplant, but there were problems. He says they knew whatever organ they used for transplant would have to be of appropriate size, but there would have been a long wait. Dr. Bishop says here are very few organs available from newborn babies. They tested and found her father was the same blood type, and he was willing to let doctors take a part of his liver. They investigated to see if they’d be able to take a small piece of his liver and get enough blood vessels to put it in the baby and have it work. Bishop says they decided he’d be an ideal donor and chose to take a part of the organ called the left lateral segment of the liver. The operation was done and the baby underwent eight more surgeries after that, but finally was well enough for her parents to take her home to Port Byron, Illinois. to Dr. Bishop says it’s exciting to have the capability for such a delicate operation, because up to now parents who learned their child had such a problem would have had to travel out of the state to find treatment, and the success rate elsewhere has not been good with young babies. He credits the team of doctors and surgeons at University hospitals for the good outcome of such a rare and difficult case.
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