The cover of today’s Boston Globe features the beaming face of Alannah Shevenell, a 9 year-old who will be heading home to Maine this morning after a three-month stay at Children’s Hospital Boston.
For just under 100 days Alannah and her grandmother have been staying at Children’s while she received treatment for a rare and aggressive cancer that was compromising several of her internal organs. When all other treatments had failed, Heung Bae Kim, MD, director of Children’s Pediatric Transplant Center (PTC), suggested a multivisceral transplant that would remove Alannah’s tumor and replace the six organs that had been damaged by its presence.
Under Kim’s guidance surgeons from Children’s PTC performed the 14-hour procedure. Once Alannah’s tumor was successfully removed doctors took the donor organs, which came from one donor and were kept together as a single unit, and transplanted them into the young girl. Now, a few months later, Alannah is ready to head home, making Children’s PTC the first ever center in New England to successfully transplant six organs in a single procedure— a very impressive number in the field of multivisceral transplantation.
Watch this video from the Boston Globe on Alannah’s treatment:
Any time organ transplants are needed there are drawbacks, like time spent waiting for an organ to become available, potential complications during surgery and the risk that the body will reject the new organ at some point. Needless to say, a procedure that involves not one, but six organs, is even more risky. But as proved by Alannah, six-organ multivisceral transplants are possible.
Of course, this achievement would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of the members of the Children’s PTC. Established in 2006, the center brings together experts who specialize in all forms of transplantation, including heart, lung, liver, intestine, kidney and stem cell transplant. This multidisciplinary approach enables Children’s to use all of its resources in order to provide the highest quality of care in the most complex situations.