Country’s first liver auto-transplantation procedure performed at DUHS

Published April 11, 2021
Described as “one of the most complex and sophisticated procedures”, it was performed on a 28-year-old cancer patient. — Reuters/File
Described as “one of the most complex and sophisticated procedures”, it was performed on a 28-year-old cancer patient. — Reuters/File

KARACHI: Pakistan has achieved a major milestone in healthcare and medical sciences as the doctors at Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) have successfully performed the first liver auto-transplantation procedure, a top official said here on Saturday.

Described as “one of the most complex and sophisticated procedures”, the doctors at DUHS took out the liver of a 28-year-old cancer patient, surgically removed the tumour, reconstructed the damaged veins and then re-implanted it in the patient’s body, who’s now in the phase of recovery.

“The DUHS team of liver transplant surgeons has achieved this major breakthrough performing one of the most complex and sophisticated procedures, known as liver auto-transplantation,” said DUHS Vice Chancellor Prof Saeed Quraishy.

“In this procedure, diseased liver is removed from the body. Then the cancer is surgically removed, damaged veins are reconstructed or artificial veins are inserted and finally the liver is re-implanted.”

‘Liver can regenerate itself, so people can [safely] donate parts of their livers to others’

Meanwhile, speaking at a seminar on ‘Liver, Kidney and Bone Marrow Transplants at Dow University of Health Sciences Hospital — Meet the Experts’, organised at the Ojha campus of the varsity, Prof Quraishy also shared details of the 28-year-old patient, who hails from Zhob, Balochistan.

“He came to DUHS with liver cancer, which had damaged some portion of his liver and some important veins,” he said.

“Prof Dr Faisal Dar led our team of surgeons and doctors. Our team of experts including Dr Jahanzeb Hyder, Dr Muhammad Iqbal and others performed the country’s first liver auto-transplantation. Before this one performed at DUHS, only around 20 such procedures have been performed in the world.”

He said that regular liver transplants were also being carried out despite Covid-19, and so far around half a dozen such procedures had successfully been done at DUHS.

Liver transplant surgeon at DUHS Dr Jahanzeb Hyder said the country required hundreds of liver transplants every year due to the growing number of chronic patients.

“Liver is the only organ in the human body which can regenerate itself so people can donate parts of their livers to others for saving their lives,” he said.

“In a liver transplant, an unhealthy part of a patient is surgically removed and a healthy portion of a liver from a donor is implanted. Following the surgery, both the donor and the recipient can live healthy lives.”

Speaking on the occasion, Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) Surgeon Dr Farrukh Ali Khan said BMTs were performed to treat patients suffering from various types of blood cancer and genetic blood disorders, including thalassaemia and haemophilia.

“In most cases, bone marrow of the siblings or parents is used for the transplant,” he said. “Bone marrow is also part of the body, which can grow again so there is no harm in donating bone marrow for the treatment of patients. There are now techniques where medicines are used to increase bone marrow in the patients with low marrow.”

Prof Rashid Bin Hamid, a kidney transplant surgeon at DUHS, said in Pakistan more than 20,000,000 patients needed kidney transplants as the end-stage renal disease was on the rise.

“But only 1,000-1,200 people have the opportunity to get renal transplants while the remaining patients have to depend on dialysis for their entire life,” he said. “At DUHS, we have the most advanced renal transplant programme of the country where dozens of these procedures are being performed on a monthly basis.”

Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2021

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