'Double miracle' as mother gets 2nd liver

Top News | Carain Yeung 21 Apr 2017

Liver patient Tang Kwai-sze yesterday underwent a second liver transplant surgery in what her thankful daughter described as a "double miracle."

Tang, 43, suffered from acute liver failure and her 17-year-old daughter had wanted to donate part of her own liver but her bid was rejected as she was three months short of the minimum donor age of 18.

A 26-year-old clerk, Momo Cheng, stepped up to the plate and donated three-quarters of her liver last Thursday in a 12-hour transplant.

Three days after the transplant, a bypass to the liver was blocked, affecting one-third of Tang's transplant and she had to undergo another nine-hour surgery to unblock it.

But she remained in intensive care, with her recovery deemed too slow, even though she regained consciousness briefly on Wednesday.

A liver from a brain-dead patient from Kowloon suddenly became available and Queen Mary Hospital doctors decided that Tang should undergo the second transplant to give her a better chance of survival.

Lo Chung-mau, head of the hospital's liver transplant center, said after the five-hour transplant yesterday that Tang could regain consciousness as soon as today. And her daughter Michelle said: "Two miracles happened to my mother and I'm very grateful."

Speaking to reporters after the second transplant surgery, the 17-year- old expressed gratitude to the two donors and their families.

Lo denied that the first transplant was too small although it was just 55 percent of the ideal size.

Asked why the bypass was blocked, Lo said there were many factors, which could have been caused by the patient's condition or by the operation.

But damage caused to the transplanted liver left it with just 30 percent of its function.

The surgeon insisted that Cheng's donation had not gone to waste, saying: "If Momo did not donate part of her liver, there is no chance [for Tang to recover]."

Tang has been on ventilator and kidney dialysis since last week's first transplant.

When the hospital team was told of the availability of a liver from a brain dead patient in a hospital in Kowloon, Kelvin Ng Kwok-chai, associate professor at the University of Hong Kong's hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgery division, went to the hospital to harvest the organ, which could be transplanted 100 percent whole unlike that from a living donor.

Ng said the procedure took three hours, from about 9am to midday, and the liver was in an ideal condition.

He expressed gratitude to the family of the donor on behalf of the family and the transplant team.

Tang's latest operation started at 11am and lasted 5 1/2 hours with her vital signs stable, said Sin Sui-ling, associate consultant doctor of the transplant center.

Michelle said she was worried when she heard about the second transplant but she trusted the team at Queen Mary Hospital.

Doctors expect that Cheng, the first donor, can be discharged today. She was said to be in good spirits and recovering well from her surgery.

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