Parents save daughter’s life as living donors in lung transplant

A couple's gambit to save the life of their 11-year-old daughter by donating a part of their lungs for use in a procedure being done by National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) for the first time has been declared a success.

Details of the lobar lung transplant were made public at a press conference held Friday at NTUH to celebrate the family's recovery from the complicated surgery done in October 2022 and highlight the medical milestone for Taiwan.

The lobar lung transplant -- a procedure often used to allow large-sized donor lungs to be implanted into pediatric recipients and usually done with lobes from living donors -- was essentially a last resort for the Liao (?) family to keep their daughter alive.

At the press conference, the father of the girl said his daughter was hospitalized at NTUH in Taipei last year, which meant that members of the family, which lives in Taichung, had to make weekend commutes up north to see her.

Mr. Liao said the family saw the girl's condition progressively deteriorate, bringing her to the brink of death, but it was given some hope when NTUH doctors suggested the idea of a living-donor lobar lung transplant.

The procedure was a bit of a long shot, given the potential obstacles related to Taiwan's policies on living donor lung transplants and the risks that came with the challenging procedure.

NTUH Thoracic Surgery chief Hsu Hsao-hsun (???) said relying on a living donor was not that unusual. Taiwan, he said, lacks organ donors -- in part due to cultural taboos -- and a majority of liver and kidney transplants in Taiwan have relied on living donors for years.

Of potentially more concern was that Taiwanese law requires living donors to be a relative within a fifth degree of kinship, and lobar lung transplants needed the condition of donors'lungs to be healthy.

Since the procedure requires two living donors to provide the lower lobe from either their left or right lung, respectively, Mr. Liao's high blood sugar levels were an area of concern.

NTUH's Director of Surgery Huang Chiun-sheng (???) added that while the hospital had been licensed to perform lung lobe transplants since 2005, October was the first time the hospital had ever performed one, adding to the challenge.

To prepare for the surgery, Hsu, one of the hospital's lung transplant experts, said four medical teams held 16 meetings within a month to familiarize all members with the undertaking.

In October 2022, Mr. Liao, his wife and daughter underwent the 15-hour transplant procedure, and they all came out of it healthy in a success that was both a milestone for NTUH and Taiwan.

In remarks delivered at Friday's press conference, NTUH Vice Superintendent Lai I-rue (???) said being united with one's family over the Lunar New Year holiday should be as natural as being able to breathe, but neither seemed likely for the Liao family last year.

NTUH was happy to restore the family's health so they could be together again for the holidays, said Lai, who also saw the procedure as a learning experience for the hospital that will be useful in future lifesaving living-donor lobar lung transplants.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel