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Mom and pop's gift of life to daughter
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Doctors at Ruijin Hospital saved a girl's life by performing the city's first liver transplant using part of a liver from both her mother and father.

Only five countries in the world have successfully performed such an operation, and there had been only two in China.

The 15-year-old girl, identified as Xiaoyi, is in a stable condition and both of her parents are recovering well after the 17-hour transplant surgery last Wednesday.

Xiaoyi's legs swelled up in July and primary checkups didn't detect any problem. But her health deteriorated with a rash over her body and a bad cough. Ruijin Hospital confirmed she had Wilson's disease last month.

This is a hereditary syndrome which causes the body to retain copper instead of releasing the metal into bile. As the intestines absorb copper from food, the copper builds up in the liver and damages the tissue. Eventually, the damage causes the liver to release the copper directly into the bloodstream, which can lead to severe brain damage, liver failure, and death.

According to Dr Shen Baiyong, vice director of Ruijin's organ transplant center, Xiaoyi suffered serious liver damage and needed an immediate liver transplant. "Because of her weight, she required two portions of donated adult liver," Shen said.

Her mother, father and stepfather all volunteered to donate their livers, and her mother's and father's were found to be good tissue matches.

Since Xiaoyi's mother and stepfather both work for a sanitation bureau and her father lost his job as a security guard, they had to borrow from relatives and friends to cover the 200,000-yuan (US$27,100) medical bill, which doesn't cover future anti-rejection medication. Ruijin officials said the hospital had cut costs to support the family and hoped more people could help Xiaoyi and her family.

(Shanghai Daily December 20, 2007)

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