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Vatican children’s hospital takes on 4 organ transplants in one day

Sugeons at Bambino Gesù Hospital

Divisione Produzione Fotografica | Provided

J-P Mauro - published on 10/28/23

At Bambino Gesù Hospital, two donors supplied four patients with three kidneys and one liver in a marathon of procedures that involved some 40 health workers.

It was a monumental week at Bambino Gesù Hospital, the pediatric hospital under the jurisdiction of the Holy See, where expert teams of medical professionals performed four organ transplants in about 24 hours. Two donors supplied four patients with three kidneys and one liver in a marathon of procedures that involved some 40 healthcare workers.

According to a press release from Bambino Gesù, the first operation was conducted on the youngest patient of the four late in the evening of October 17. A liver was transplanted into a 13-year-old who had been on the waiting list for six months. The teenager had been suffering from a rare pathological condition called biliary cirrhosis that leads to the progressive destruction of the bile ducts. The condition occurred due to atresia of the biliary tract, causing a blockage of the channels responsible for transporting bile from the liver to the intestine, and resulting in excess bile harming the liver. 

The following morning, on October 18, the hospital performed a kidney transplant on a 15-year-old who suffered from bilateral renal hypoplasia, a rare pathology that prevented the kidneys from developing completely. The boy had been on dialysis since last spring, when he was diagnosed with renal failure, or the failure of the kidneys. 

The next procedure was on a 16-year-old boy who had required chronic hemodialysis since July 2023, a treatment process that requires machines to clean the blood of patients with kidney failure. Hemodialysis is generally undertaken three to five times per week until a patient can receive a new kidney. This patient’s kidney failure was caused by another rare pathology in which the glomeruli (the filtering units of the kidneys) are progressively scarred until they no longer function. 

Sugeons at Bambino Gesù Hospital
The Sugeons of Bambino Gesù Hospital working tirelessly to transplant organs into four boys.

The final procedure of the packed day of transplants was performed on a 25-year-old man who had been awaiting a kidney for seven years and undergoing hemodialysis for eight years. He had previously been subject to an unsuccessful transplant for a condition caused by severe malformation of the urinary tract. Unfortunately, this transplant was a failure, due to a condition that resulted from the first failed transplant, called hyperimmunity. This condition causes the body to overproduce antibodies which in turn create a higher risk of replacement organ rejection. 

Professor Marco Spada, who is responsible for the complex multidisciplinary operational unit, thanked the generosity of the families of the two donors, while hailing the efforts of the surgical teams responsible for the operations. He said: 

“The first thank you goes to the families of the two donors who in a moment of great pain opened their hearts to the reasons for solidarity and life for four boys,” Spada commented in the press release. “The realization of this sequence of transplants was also possible thanks to the use of extracorporeal organ perfusion machines, which allow the ischemia times to be prolonged. I would also like to thank all the healthcare and non-healthcare staff who collaborated in the success of the four interventions in just 24 hours. Such an important result for our patients and their families can only be the result of great teamwork and personal and professional dedication.”

ChildrenHealth and WellnessVatican
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