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Life saving surgery
Dr Anupam Sibal talks to Shalini Saksena about a successful liver transplant that he did on two children suffering from a rare liver condition
It is a rare medical condition — one in 10 lakh children suffer from it. And yet, a simple liver transplant can cure it. Crigler Najjar Syndrome, doctors tells you is a condition wherein an essential enzyme GT is absent in the liver of a new born. The deficiency results in toxic form of bilirubin to rise in the blood to a very high level, which can cross into the brain and produce irreversible complications. To prevent brain damage and hearing loss from this condition phototherapy (treatment by a special light) is needed for 14-16 hours a day.
According to Dr Anupam Sibal, group medical director, Apollo Hospitals Group and Senior Pediatric Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals with the new liver both children have received the enzyme they were not born with and their eyes are pearly white.
“We have now performed 2,800 liver transplants in patients from India and 40 countries. Of these 220 have been performed on children. We are privileged to have earned the trust of so many patients over the last 18 years, ever since we performed the first successful liver transplant in India in 1998,” Sibal says.
The symptoms, he tells you is very high jaundice in the first few weeks of the birth. “Jaundice is the only symptom of the syndrome. If the newly born has it for more than two weeks, one should consult the doctor immediately,” Sibal advises and adds that so far he and his team has conducted five such surgeries with successful results and that surgery is the only option available since the syndrome starts affecting a child’s performance especially a school-goer. “Like in the case of 13-year-old Khalid Mohammad from UAE who received a part of his father’s liver. His bilirubin had reached 30, whereas it should be less than 20. That is why the family opted for transplant.
In India too, children are susceptible to this syndrome. Ayanveer Singh from Kapurthala was suffering from Criggler Najjar Syndrome before he underwent a liver transplant in March 2016 with this mother donating a third of her liver. As opposed to kidney transplant, liver transplant involves a blood relative.
In some cases there may be a chance that the liver be rejected but since he is on medication, this is reduced — 90 per cent survival chance. This means eight to 10 years after transplant. Worldwide the figure stands at 85 per cent and 20 years post transplant.
“The only thing that the child has to do is take precautions for the first three months — avoid exposure, public places — just the usual common sense practices that one should follow post any surgery,” Sibal tells you.
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