A five-year-old boy from Zimbabwe, suffering from respiratory failure due to advanced liver disease, successfully underwent liver transplant here.
Leon Tadiswa, the son of a school teacher in Harare, began to show symptoms like recurrent chest infection, pneumonia, difficulty in breathing, weight loss, and jaundice.
In October 2021, he was diagnosed with an uncommon condition called hepatopulmonary syndrome that affects the lungs of those with advanced liver disease.
The doctors found that the child was suffering from liver cirrhosis and elevated pressure in the vein that leads to the liver.
To make things worse, most of Tadiswa’s blood was bypassing capillaries of his lungs and not being saturated with oxygen. As a result, he had to be administered oxygen 24/7. He had to carry an oxygen cylinder with him all the time, even while walking, sleeping, eating, even having food or using the washroom.
Tadiswa remained confined and restricted within the bounds of this house as he needed 10 litres of oxygen to be supplied to him every minute of the day or night.
As soon as Covid restrictions on international travel were lifted,Athe child’s parents rushed him to Artemis Hospital in Gurugram for a viable treatment.
“On examination, we found that it was a case of a very high level of oxygen bypass. The percentage of blood pumped out by the heart that is not oxygenated in the child was 67 per cent. This means that only one-third of the blood pumped by his heart was carrying oxygen. Such a poor figure of blood oxygenation has not been recorded in India before. Liver transplant was the only option to save the child’s life,” said Dr. Giriraj Bora, Chief – Liver Transplant & Sr. Consultant – GI & HPB Surgery, Artemis Hospital, Gurugram, in a statement.
The doctors used a special ventilator for delivering nitric oxide to prevent further fall in oxygen levels in the child’s blood.
As the expense of the ventilator – Rs 1 lakh per day – was unaffordable for the family, the hospital supported them financially on humanitarian grounds for the entire duration of 14 days.
Once Tadiswa’s oxygen levels were stabilised, he was deemed fit for liver transplantation, which was donated by his 53-year-old maternal uncle.
“After the transplant, Tadiswa is completely off the oxygen cylinder, and is able to breathe naturally. He can now lead a normal life like any other kid of his age. He will remain on drugs to suppress his immune system and prevent rejection of the liver by his body, but the dose will decrease over time,” Bora said.
“My life turned upside down when my child was diagnosed with such a serious disease. I had lost all hope and could not sleep. I still cannot believe that he is breathing on his own now,” said the child’s mother Nyasha Mhandu, while thanking the doctors.