Mother Donates Part of Liver to 1-Year-Old Daughter

The first adult-to-pediatric living liver transplant in Arizona has been performed at The University of Arizona-University Campus.
May 2, 2012
Aliyah Negrete
Aliyah Negrete
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Surgeons with the University of Arizona department of surgery have performed Arizona's first adult-to-pediatric living donor liver transplant at The University of ArizonaMedical Center-University Campus in Tucson.

Vanessa Negrete, 26, from Yuma, donated a section of her liver to her 1-year-old daughter, Aliyah Negrete. The relatively rare procedure was performed March 20 when Vanessa and Aliyah underwent simultaneous operations.

Vanessa was released from the hospital a week after the surgery. Aliyah is being discharged on May 2.

At just a couple of months old, Aliyah was diagnosed with a congenital condition called biliary atresia that affects the liver's ability to secret bile, causing cirrhosis and jaundice.

This rare and incurable condition affecting newborns is neither hereditary nor caused by anything that occurs during pregnancy. It strikes one out of every 10,000 to 15,000 births and is the leading reason for liver transplants in children.

"We had been waiting for a liver from a deceased donor for several months for Aliyah, but none that was appropriate became available," said UA transplant surgeon Dr. Rainer W.G. Gruessner. "In order to halt Aliyah's health from deteriorating any further, the decision was made to use a living donor.

"After extensive evaluations of family members, it was determined the best match was Aliyah's mother."

During the liver transplant procedure, surgeons took about 25 percent of Vanessa's liver, of which a large portion is expected to regenerate itself. The organ was transplanted into Aliyah by a team of five surgeons from the Divisions of Abdominal Transplant Surgery and Reconstructive and Plastic Surgery, led by Gruessner, chairman of the UA department of surgery.

Gruessner and Khalid Khan, director of the Pediatric Liver and Intestine Transplant Program, said Aliyah and mom are doing great.

"The ability to perform living-related liver transplants makes us less dependent on the short supply of deceased donor organs," said Gruessner. "As seen in patients with end-stage liver failure, only liver transplants allow patients to survive and enjoy a normal life."

Khan added, "This transplant sets a new precedence for management of very sick children with liver disease in Arizona and will save the lives of patients."