Intestine transplant succeeds between twins

Updated: 2013-05-21 23:39


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XI'AN - A hospital in northwest China's Shaanxi province announced Tuesday that Asia's first small bowel transplant operation between twins has been successful.

The transplanted intestine has regained digestive function, and the 45-year-old patient is expected to be discharged on Wednesday after two-and-a-half weeks observation, said a spokesman with Xijing Hospital in the provincial capital of Xi'an.

The patient, a woman surnamed Xu, received 155 cm of small intestine from her twin sister during surgery on May 4, said Zhao Qingchuan, the patient's operating surgeon.

Before the surgery, Xu was unable to eat and was kept alive by injections of nutrients as small bowel and colon necrosis left only 15 cm of her small intestine in working order, or one-fortieth of that of a healthy person.

Fortunately, Xu has a twin sister with identical genes, whose intestines were not rejected after being transplanted into the patient's body, Zhao said.

The surgery took 10 hours, and Xu was able to eat and move around six days afterwards, according to Zhao.

The small intestine transplant is among the most difficult of large organ transplants due to stronger immune responses it can trigger. The latest small intestine transplant between twins was the fifth case in the world after four similar ones in the United States, Britain and Switzerland, of which three have succeeded.