Stories about: multivisceral transplant

In their own words: Six families share the impact of organ donation

This is the season for gratitude and giving, a time to celebrate friends, family, the end of one year and the beginning of a new one. But for a select group, it also is a time to celebrate one of the greatest gifts — the gift of life through organ donation.

Organ donation - Mickey

Mickey was born with a unique combination of congenital heart defects and spent most of his early life at Boston Children’s. He was one day shy of 6 months old when he received his heart transplant, and his family is grateful for every day since. “Mickey has shown us what courage and resiliency look like, and his transplant has taught us the true meaning of giving. He has touched so many lives and because of him, we have met so many amazing children and families, whose hearts and hopes far surpass their diagnoses.”

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Transplant medicine through the years: a brief timeline

NDLM_2014_FacebookProfile11April is National Donate Life month, when people come together to raise awareness about organ donation and encourage others to register themselves as donors.  Donate Life Month is in its 11th year, but organ donation itself dates back much further. In fact, in ancient Greek, Roman and Chinese cultures there are legends of transplants performed by gods and healers, proving that the concept of organ donation is at least thousands of years old. Here’s a quick look at how organ transplantation has progressed over the years:

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Children’s becomes first hospital in New England to complete six organ transplant

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:

A multivisceral transplant is one in which the small intestine and liver are replaced, along with one or more of the following organs: spleen, stomach, pancreas or colon.  Multivisceral transplants are used to treat a variety of digestive conditions, with the most common being short bowel syndrome. However, the number of multivisceral transplants performed is significantly lower than procedures involving only one organ; and when you think about the organ transplantation process, it’s easy to understand why.
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A (newfound) appetite for life

What would it be like to live your whole life, unable to eat food? Read about Gwen Lorimier, a patient who couldn’t eat until an intestinal transplant offered her a chance at a normal childhood.

For as long as she can remember, Gwen Lorimier, now 8, wanted nothing more intensely than the ability to eat. To chomp down on a steaming hotdog. To lick vanilla ice cream as it melted down a cone. To snack on cereal while watching cartoons with her big sister, Abby. But eating was merely a fantasy for Gwen. Since the age of 1, her body had mysteriously refused to digest food. To stay alive, Gwen received all her calories and nutrition through an IV. Nothing could pass through her mouth without causing excruciating pain—not even water.

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