Death ‘Quarantined’ itself to allow 10 month old Baby to get life

Malaysian girl got liver transplant in Indraprastha Apollo amid COVID-19 Chaos

New Delhi:  Noor’s life was hanging by a gossamer thin thread. The window of life for 10 month old Malaysian girl could have closed anytime soon. At this critical juncture, mandatory two week’s quarantine ruling seemed to completely spoil her chance of life. Apollo doctors had no hope she would survive so long without immediate liver transplant. But, lo and behold! She waited for liver transplant as if Death quarantined itself to allow her to get a new lease of life.

Noor has now been discharged and awaits her return to Malaysia. In the days she was in hospital she was cynosure of all eyes. Just as her name means, sparkles in her eyes seemed emit embers of hope in the midst of corona bloodbath. Her parents had Ramadan of a life time.

Baby Noor soon after birth had developed jaundice that advanced with time and was further diagnosed with biliary atresia, a rare liver and bile disease which has a ratio of 1 : 12000 in  infants worldwide. In addition to this, Noor also had heterotaxy, an abnormal arrangement of the internal thoracic-abdominal organs across the left-right axis of the body. Her liver and stomach are in the middle of the abdomen and her heart was in the middle of the chest.

Earlier Baby Noor underwent a Kasai surgery that connects the under surface of liver directly to the intestines to achieve biliary drainage. She also underwent abdominal surgery to correct intestinal malrotation.  However, both the surgeries were unsuccessful.

According to Dr.Anupam Sibal, Group Medical Director, Apollo Hospitals Group and Senior Paediatric Gastroenterologist & Hepatologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, “After Kasai surgery failing to clear jaundice, the only treatment is a liver transplant. Noor fell into this category of failed Kasai and developed progressive liver failure leading to severe jaundice, a bloated belly with ascites, growth failure, bleeding episodes due to liver dysfunction and increased pressure in the veins supplying her hardened liver. She was hospitalised in Kuala Lumpur multiple times, during her treatment she suffered a massive gastro-intestinal bleed in February, leading to a near death like situation. Initially her transfer to India was cancelled as she was on ventilator but since it was a very high-risk case requiring immediate surgery, she was referred to us.”

According to Dr Neerav Goyal, Senior Consultant and Head, Apollo Liver Transplant, Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery Unit ,The day after the family  landed in Delhi, an advisory was issued by the Government of India to quarantine all travellers from Malaysia for a minimum of two  weeks. It was an ethical dilemma for the team of doctors and nurses, as we were not hopeful that Baby Noor could survive so long without immediate treatment. The team acted quick and put the family in quarantine, for a period of two weeks post which the liver transplant was planned.”

Meanwhile Baby Noor developed a rhythm disturbance with a very slow heart rate while awaiting a transplant. She immediately required a temporary pacemaker. Post the quarantine period, after testing for SARS-COV- 2 which was negative and taking all precautions including PPE, she underwent a living related liver transplant on 31st March 2020.The donor was her mother. At the time of the transplant, Noor had a bilirubin level of about 45 mg/dl as against a normal of less than one. Her weight was only 6.5 kg at the age of 9 months.” Said, Dr Smita Malhotra, Consultant, Paediatric Gastroenterologist & Hepatologist.

“Starting with the first successful liver transplantation in India in 1998, the Apollo Liver Transplant Program has now performed more than 3500 liver transplants including 361 in children. “Because of heterotaxy, low weight precarious over all condition due to pronounced liver failure and the heart condition, this liver transplant was very high-risk procedure. Our extensive experience in liver transplantation helped us conduct an uneventful Liver transplant in a very complicated situation,” added, Dr.Sibal.

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