Dramatic Parent-to-Child Transplant at CHOA

October 2011

Jaundiced and experiencing severe stomach pains, four-year-old Brandon Hayes arrived at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston on October 4. His liver enzyme numbers were dangerously high and rising. His mother, Cheri, whose blood type was the same as Brandon's, completed steps at Emory to become a living donor and learned she was a match seven days later. Brandon's condition rapidly deteriorated over the 48 hours that followed.

The first parent-to-child transplant at Children's since 2006 began on October 13 at 8:30 a.m. with Cheri's seven-hour procedure, performed by Dr. Stuart Knechtle, director of liver transplantation at Emory and Children's, and Dr. Steven Hanish. Brandon's procedure was started at about 12:15 p.m. by Dr. Joseph Magliocca, who was later joined by Dr. Knechtle. The transplant was completed at 8:30 p.m.

"Ideally, we want to use a donated liver that is the same size as the recipient's," says Dr. Knecthle. "However, as a second option, since there is a limited pool of deceased donor livers for pediatric patients, we can surgically alter a larger liver to fit a small recipient. Our third option is to use a living donor split liver transplant procedure that would offer the best outcome for both donor and recipient. It's optimal for the portion of the donor's liver for the transplant to have three main vessels that align with the smaller recipient's vessels. In the Hayes' cases, the connection was almost perfect."

Both Brandon and Cheri have returned home and are progressing very well. Brandon hopes to return to playing soccer, his favorite sport, and shooting goals for his team.