Two children in Jamaican will be the recipients of the first liver transplants to ever be performed in the island country. Physicians from Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE are scheduled to travel to Jamaica in July to perform the procedure for two boys, one age nine-months and one age 13-months.
The surgeons, Dr. Christopher Raab and Dr. Stephen Dunn, will travel to Kingston, Jamaica in July, where Dun will perform the transplants. Both children have biliary atresia, a condition that can lead to liver failure if left untreated. The children will receive tissue donations from a respective family member.
The rare disease occurs when one or more of the body’s bile ducts are absent, narrow, blocked or damaged, preventing the bile used to digest food to flow from the liver to the gallbladder. The bile scars liver cells and eventually leads to liver failure.
While other surgeries have been done in Jamaica, a liver transplant is highly complex and hasn’t been attempted. Dunn has taught colleagues how to perform the procedure in Bolivia and India, and over the next two years, physicians will be working with Jamaican medical professionals to teach them the procedure.
The need for facilities and trained on-site surgeons in Jamaica became apparent when six patients in six years from the island arrived at Nemours in Delaware for surgeries. Another problem facing patients in Jamaica is the lack of a network and the infrastructure required to locate and identify organ donors.
Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston now has the state-of-the-art technology and medicine needed for transplants. Dunn and Raab have a short list of supplies and instruments of their own they’ll be bringing. The U.S. physicians are looking forward to learning new and creative ways that resourceful Jamaican physicians solve problems and adopting those methods to bring back to the U.S.
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