Liver implant gives boy ‘another chance of life’

Doctors in London say they have cured a baby boy of a life-threatening disease which was destroying his liver.

They implanted cells which acted like a temporary liver, allowing the damaged organ to recover.

The team at King’s College Hospital in south London say the technique is a world first.

Eight-month-old Iyaad Syed now looks the picture of health – but six months ago he was close to death. A virus had damaged his liver causing it to fail.

Instead of going on a waiting list for a transplant, doctors injected donor liver cells into his abdomen.

These processed toxins and produced vital proteins – acting rather like a temporary liver.

The cells were coated with a chemical found in algae which prevented them from being attacked by the immune system.

This new technique is certainly ground-breaking and we would welcome the results of further clinical trials to see if it could become a standard treatment for both adults and children”

Andrew Langford Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust

After two weeks his own liver had begun to recover.

Professor Anil Dhawan, a liver specialist at King’s College Hospital, says the whole team at the hospital is delighted:

“This is the first time this treatment has been used to treat a child with acute liver failure. It’s only a few months back when I first saw this child who was so sick requiring support on dialysis and a breathing machine.

“We think we have given him another chance of life and seeing him now six months down the road with nearly normal liver function is remarkable.”

Dr Ragai Mitry, Head of Liver Processing at King’s, who helped in developing the technique, said:

“We are very pleased the transplanted liver cells have helped in supporting and delivering the missing metabolic functions of Iyaad’s failing liver.”

Read this story on the BBC’s website here