US girl, 9, gets six-organ transplant

A nine-year-old girl is making what doctors described as a remarkable recovery Sunday, days after surgeons transplanted six of her organs in a groundbreaking medical procedure.

The surgery performed last Tuesday on young Alannah Shevenell, sought to remove an aggressive cancerous growth festering since 2008, and that had attacked her stomach, liver, pancreas, esophagus, and spleen.

The surgery was performed in Boston, Massachusetts at Children's Hospital, one of this nation's most highly regarded medical facilities.

"For just under 100 days Alannah and her grandmother have been staying at Children's while she received treatment for a rare and that was compromising several of her ," the hospital said in a statement.

"When all other treatments had failed, Heung Bae Kim, MD, director of Children's Pediatric Transplant Center suggested a multivisceral transplant that would remove Alannahs tumor and replace the six organs that had been damaged by its presence.

The nine-year old, who hails from the northeastern state of Maine, was the lucky recipient of organs from a recently deceased child of the same size and blood type, and which were able to be transplanted at the same time.

Kim told the Boston Globe newspaper that they anticipate that Alannah will make a complete recovery.

"She will not have real restrictions in terms of activity," he told the Globe.

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not rated yet Feb 05, 2012
The article says "complete recovery", but don't organ transplantees usually live less than 10 years after the transplant? The combination of immunosuppressants and the necessary damage caused by the surgery itself shortens their lifespan significantly.

When you're 55-65 years old the fact that you have less than 10 years left is a lot less of a concern than it is when you're 9.

So "complete recovery" seems like a bit a of a stretch. More like "this child will have a chance to live some of the life they would have otherwise been denied".

This procedure was a technical triumph, and this line of experimental surgery (and the research that made it possible) should be expanded upon, but lets not go overboard and claim that she's just as good as she would have been if she'd never had cancer. Exaggeration won't win you any journalism awards.
not rated yet Feb 06, 2012
"...don't organ transplantees usually live less than 10 years after the transplant?"
That depends on several factors, including the specific organ, the age of the patient, the quality of the donor match, the protocols used by the transplant team, etc.
One recent UK report claims "the 15 year survival estimate of the 649 paediatric recipients in the liver dataset is 82%".
not rated yet Feb 06, 2012
The probability of acceptation multiplies with number of organs transferred. It would be a miracle if she survives it. The main positive factor is, she is a youngster, so she hasn't immune system fully developed yet.