Aug 9, 2008

Health - WB girl has 'world's 1st' VHL liver transplant

Payel Bhattacharya is doing well after an 18-hour surgery at Sir Gangaram Hospital, Delhi

KOLKATA: Almost a year of agony hopefully ended for Kolkata girl Payel Bhattacharya when she became, doctors claimed, the first von Hippel-Landau (VHL) case in the world to undergo a liver transplant.

After an 18-hour marathon surgery at Sir Gangaram Hospital, Delhi, on Thursday, Payel is doing well, the doctors said.

Payel’s story is one of indomitable courage in the face of stern adversity. VHL is a rare genetic disorder. Shibajyoti Ghosh, associate professor of surgery at RG Kar Hospital, Kolkata, said only 3-4 cases per million are detected worldwide. Payel’s is said to be the only recorded case in India.

The disease is characterised by the formation of tumours in blood-rich organs of the body such as brain, liver and pancreas. As such, a fine needle biopsy is not possible since the tumours could burst.

After undergoing a major brain surgery in December 2006, Payel was diagnosed with several tumours in her liver last year. Doctors advised immediate liver transplant last August.

However, there was a problem. The transplant cost a whopping Rs30 lakh. For the last one year, Payel ran from pillar to post to raise funds but never lost hope. She had to rush to Delhi earlier this year after the tumours began to bleed and since Kolkata has no history of liver transplants.

Help came only from strangers, including a group of hospital staff in a Bengal village – poor but generous, the group sent her a money order of Rs150.

On Wednesday night, Payel needed an emergency transplant. Her brother could not be the donor since he too is in danger of becoming a VHL patient. Hope was almost lost till Kolkata boy Kingshuk Bhattacharya came forward.

AS Soin, head of liver transplant at Sir Gangaram Hospital, who conducted the surgery, told DNA over phone: “It was like any other liver transplant, but the challenge was removing the rather large tumours without bursting them.

“Payel’s is a rare case because only 5% of VHL cases have liver tumours.”

No comments: