Keeping the Old with the New, Livers? New Liver Transplant Procedure for Children

Today standard liver transplants are at a very high success rate, so why should we try a new technique? Dr. Tomoaki Kato a surgeon at the New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, has started conducting a new liver surgery called an auxiliary partial orthotropic liver transplantation. Out of the 13 times Dr. Kato has done this procedure only one did not work the way they had hoped.

This procedure as he has found seems to work in young patients who need liver transplants. The procedure works like this: when a patient needs a liver transplant Dr. Kato surgically puts in the new liver just like a normal liver transplant. However, what makes this procedure different is that the original liver may still be able to recover on its own. After the person’s original liver is strong enough the transplant is then removed. Preforming this surgery can change the life of the transplant receiver. When a standard liver transplant is achieved the patient must take anti-rejection pills for the rest of their life. With this new surgery it eliminates having to take these pills because it is their own liver instead of a transplant. Anti-rejection pills have been found linked to suppress the immune system which can lead to infections and even cancer.

For Johnathan Nuñez’s family this surgery has been a blessing. When Johnathan was eight months old his only chance of survival was a liver transplant. Dr. Kato explained the procedure that he believed would be best for Johnathan and the parents decided it was the best option. Johnathan is now a very competitive and healthy eight-year old that trains five days a week in gymnastics. Ms. Nuñez considered her family very blessed and that “We were in the right place at the right time.”

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