Sister saves brother's life by donating liver lobe

She had given boy bone marrow nine years earlier, transforming his immune system.

Liver lobe donor 224.88 (photo credit: SCMCI)
Liver lobe donor 224.88
(photo credit: SCMCI)
A 30-year-old woman donated a lobe from her liver to her 10-year-old brother this week - nine years after the sister donated bone marrow to him to treat his congenital immune system disease. Their identities were not disclosed. The liver transplantation, performed at Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel in Petah Tikva, was only the second reported case in the world - and the first in Israel - in which a child received bone marrow and liver tissue from the same donor. Previously, there was only one Israeli case of a 17-year-old boy getting bone marrow and a solid organ - a kidney - from the same donor. That procedure was performed at the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus a few months ago. As a result of the bone marrow/liver lobe combination, the 10-year-old boy will not need to take potentially toxic anti-rejection drugs, which often carry difficult side effects, for the rest of his life. The sister, who is married and a mother of two, gave her bone marrow when her brother was just a few months old. By doing so, she created a new immune system - based on her own - for him that will not reject the liver lobe that she gave him now. The liver-lobe transplant was performed by Prof. Eitan Mor, head of Schneider's transplant department; Dr. Ran Steinberg, deputy head of the surgical department; Dr. Natan Bar-Natan, head of the pediatric transplant service; and anesthesiologist Dr. Mila Kachko. Before the surgery, the boy was treated by Dr. Yaron Avitzur, a gastroenterology and liver specialist. The child is now recuperating in the pediatric ward headed by Prof. Ya'acov Amir. He needed the liver lobe as a result of rare and serious damage to his lungs that reduced his blood oxygenation level to only 50 percent, instead of the 95% in a healthy child. Six months ago, his condition declined, and he needed a liver transplant. His sister did not hesitate to give a lobe of her own; her liver will re-grow to its original size over the coming year. The liver lobe, said Schneider Medical Center doctors, will also improve his lungs' function significantly, and he is expected to recover gradually from his oxygenation problem in the coming months. Nine Israeli children, and many more adults, are currently waiting for a liver transplant. Due to the serious shortage of cadaver organs, Schneider Medical Center has been using donations of a lobe from a live donor. Four such liver-lobe transplants have been performed in the past year at the Petah Tikva hospital, along with four taken from cadavers.