Team offers new hope for transplant patients
Updated: 2016-04-14 08:18
By Ma Lie In Xi'an(China Daily)
A Uygur man, Adili, and his doctor, Wu Guosheng, show their confidence before intestinal transplant surgery on April 1 at Xi'an Xijing Hospital in Shaanxi province. [Photo provided to China Daily]
A medical team at a hospital in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, has successfully transplanted a small intestine into an 18-year-old man, overcoming several challenges in completing the notoriously difficult operation.
Wu Guosheng, a medical professor and the senior doctor on the team that carried out the operation, said the facility, Xi'an Xijing Hospital, has only successfully completed 10 such operations. Those that were successful dramatically improved patients' quality of life and life expectancy, with one patient still doing well after 18 years.
But, Wu said, many small intestine transplants in the past did not work because of the risk of rejection of the donated tissue.
"The high rejection rate is a difficult problem worldwide in the field of small intestine transplantation and my team studied hard to come up with new treatment techniques to overcome the problems and save more patients," Wu said.
The patient in the recent successful operation was a Uygur man from Kuqa county in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region who had been unable to eat since losing his small intestine following an illness four years ago.
The man, Adili, had his small intestine removed shortly after falling ill in February 2012 and had been receiving nutrition via a drip ever since.
His parents and other relatives spent three years taking him to see doctors but they could not find a hospital where they could get the needed operation done - until they met Wu, who is an expert in the field.
Wu told Adili's family that the best chance for success required donated tissue from a family member with a close match but tests ruled out Adili's parents and grandparents. A good match was found in Adili's 41-year-old uncle.
After careful preoperative preparation and approval from the hospital's medical ethics committee and the patient's family, the operation team was put together. The surgery, which was carried out by a team of more than 30 experts, involved the transplantation of 1.8 meters of small intestine and was carried out on April 1, lasting for seven hours. Some of the surgery was robotically-assisted.
The 200,000 yuan ($31,000) fee for the operation was waived because the patient was from a poor family.
Adili's uncle has since recovered and returned home while Adili remains in hospital, but he is recuperating well and can now eat some food.