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Children's Health


Grow a temporary one instead.

temporary-childrens-liverProfessor Anil Dhawan, Consultant Paediatric Hepatologist at King’s College Hospital, used a pioneering treatment to save the life of a boy who was just 12 days old.

The boy was suffering from a herpes-simplex virus that was damaging his liver to the extent that the organ was near failure, his kidneys were starting to fail which meant he was put on dialysis and he was in danger of the virus affecting his lungs, heart and brain.

King’s College Hospital is the European leader for liver transplants, performing 200 transplants each year, but the waiting list for a matching donor organ is long and approximately 100 people die each year waiting for a donor liver to become available. Even if a suitable match is found, there is still a risk of rejection, and the recipient must take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their life.

In this case, transplantation was not an option; the boy’s condition was deteriorating too fast. So a pioneering treatment was used: doctors injected donor liver cells into his abdomen. These cells processed the toxins and produced vital proteins, functioning like a temporary liver. Because they were coated with a chemical found in algae there was no risk of the cells being attacked by his own immune system.

His parents noticed a difference in his health within 48 hours and after two weeks his own liver had begun to recover.

This was the first time such a procedure was ever performed in the UK and that it was a success is testament to the expertise of Professor Dhawan and the team at King’s College Hospital.

King’s Paediatric Liver Centre is the biggest clinical centre of its kind in the world, providing comprehensive diagnostic and therapeutic treatments (such as innovative liver transplant surgery and liver cell transplantation).  The Centre has pioneered many of the world’s firsts in treatment for children with liver disease; it has discovered new diseases; established internationally-recognised criteria to assess the severity of liver disease and it has implemented non-invasive procedures to monitor liver disease.

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