Zim child undergoes successful liver transplant

By Abigirl Tembo, Health editor

Five-year-old Leon Tadiswa Shumbairerwa, who was suffering from a rare liver condition, is set to return home this Monday after undergoing a successful liver transplant operation in India.

A team of doctors at Artemis Hospital in Gurugram performed the delicate liver transplant surgery to save him.

Leon’s case was unique and complex in that oxygen was bypassing the five-year old’s lungs.

As a result, his heart was able to oxygenate only one-third of the blood it was pumping.

Due to this, Leon had to carry a nine kilogramme oxygen cylinder with him all the time. 

Leon was suffering from respiratory failure.

In October 2021, he was diagnosed with an uncommon condition called hepatopulmonary syndrome, a condition that affects the lungs of those with advanced liver disease.

Dr Giriraj Bora led the team of surgeons from Artemis Hospital that included Dr Prabhat Maheshwari, Chief – Neonatal and Paediatric Critical Care, Dr Sakshi Karkra, Head – Pediatric Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Dr Shyam Sunder Mahansaria, Sr. Consultant – Liver Transplant and Gastrointestinal Surgery and Dr Rajesh Mishra, Chairperson – Anaesthesia.

According to Dr Giriraj Bora: “On examination, we found that it was a case of a very high level of oxygen bypass. The child’s shunt fraction was 67%. This means that only one-third of the blood pumped by his heart was carrying oxygen. Such a poor figure for blood oxygenation has not been recorded in India before. A liver transplant was the only option to save the child’s life.”

“When the patient visited us for an initial checkup, he needed to be administered 10 litres of oxygen every minute to survive. After the transplant, he is now completely off the oxygen cylinder and is breathing naturally and effortlessly. Leon can now lead a normal life like any other kid of his age,” Dr Bora added.

Leon’s mother, Nyasha Mhandu, thanked the hospital and doctors for saving her child’s life, saying she wished to see her son grow and lead a normal life. 

“My life turned upside down when my child was diagnosed with such a serious disease. I had lost all hope and couldn’t sleep. I still cannot believe that Leon is breathing on his own now,” said the elated mother.

Tadiwa’s journey to India and medical expences were financed by the government and well-wishers after financial appeals were made in different media outlets, including ZBC News, for the operation which required US$40 000.