First ever newborn organ donation in the UK

Categories: Care.

The BBC News reports that a six-day-old baby girl’s kidneys and liver cells were given to two separate recipients after her heart stopped beating. Her kidneys were donated to a patient with renal failure and her liver cells were transfused to someone with a failing liver. 

This procedure has been described as a milestone in neonatal care.

Writing in the journal Archives of Diseases in Childhood, doctors describe the case of the baby girl who was born in extremely poor health as a result of being starved of oxygen before her birth. This led to profound brain damage. 

Doctors at Imperial College NHS Trust in London say in an act of “extraordinary generosity” her parents agreed that her organs could be donated once her heart stopped beating.

Medics report that the surgery was incredibly difficult and intricate becuse kidneys at this stage of life are only around 5cm long.

Potential for more such operations
Experts believe that there is potential for more similar life-saving donations from newborns, but they are held back by prohibitive UK guidelines. Official waiting lists suggest some 15 infants under the age of two currently need organs across the UK but it is believed that the number may be higher.

A handful of donations have taken place involving infants who were nearly a year old.

While newborn organ donations have been performed in the US, Germany and Australia, this has not happened before in the UK because clinicians in this country are not allowed to declare brain death in a baby under two months of age. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health is set to review this and report back in March 2015.

Click here to read the full report on BBC News Health.

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