The procedure, implemented only 25 times worldwide, consists on transferring cells from another liver, without the necessity of transplanting the whole body
ELPAÍS.com – Madrid – 21/05/2008
A 12 years old girl with a metabolic deficit has been the first patient to undergo a liver cell transplantation in Spain, an operation much less invasive than an organ transplant. This technique is based on the recovery of the liver function in patients with severe problems through the transplantation of cells from another healthy liver.
The La Fe Universitary Hospital from Valencia is one of the first centre in the world to implement this procedure, as reported yesterday by the Minister of health, Manuel Cervera, and the head of the Liver Surgery and Transplantation of the Valencian Centre, José Mir.
The surgery was carried out on Tuesday to a child from the Valencian Community, which had a metabolic deficit in the urea cycle (ornithine Transcarbamilase), a disease that affects 1 of every 15,000 births in Spain. This deficit is characterized by the lack of an enzyme that makes proteins to be poorly tolerated. This way, the body itself generates some toxins that cause strong disease decompensation that can have serious repercussions in the neurological system, and can trigger coma and other serious injuries.
Conseller Cervera has pointed out that “there has been about 25 liver cell transplantation in patients with inbornmetabolic disorders worldwide, according to the data published in the medical literature”.
This transplant aims to make work the liver of the girl child to produce the enzyme that lacks and thus achieve a possible recovery or avoid the decompensation of the disease, causing him serious consequences. It is divided into two parts, the first is in process, extract and freeze the cells (hepatocytes) from a segment of the liver (split) would not be used for transplant. The objective of this transplant is to make work the liver of the girl in order to produce the lacking enzyme thus achieve a possible recovery or avoid the decompensations produced by the disease, causing her serious consequences. It is divided in two parts, the first is to process, extract and freeze the cells (hepatocytes) from a segment of the liver (split) that bwas not going to be used in a transplant.
The second focuses on the infusion of the cells to the patient through the portal vein, by members of the Pediatric Gastroenterology Sevice and the Liver Surgery and Transplantation Unit.
A barely invasive technique
This type of transplantation can work as a bridge until the full organ transplant for cases of serious liver diseases in the waiting list as well as in patients with acute liver failure, it can also be an alternative for patients with congenital metabolic diseases, such as the transplanted patient
Since it is a much less invasive method than conventional liver transplant, it has has many advantages: it does not require surgery, it provides the possibility of using cells from a single donor for several receivers and it presents less morbidity, mortality and cost.
Besides, its application enables to maximize the donation resources as it supports the use of livers unsuitable for transplant, from which we will obtain the cells to be transplanted to the patient.