Gurugram docs save Zimbabwean boy with hepatopulmonary syndrome

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Child Leaon Tadiswa with his mother Nyasha Mhandu

Rohit Shishodia

Doctors at a Gurugram hospital gave a new lease of life to a five-year-old Zimbabwean boy, who developed respiratory failure due to hepatopulmonary syndrome, by successfully carrying out a liver transplant upon him in a 14-hour long complex surgery.

The liver was donated by the child’s 53-year-old maternal uncle.

Leon Tadiswa, the son of a school teacher from Harare, began to show symptoms like a recurrent chest infection, pneumonia, difficulty in breathing, weight loss, and jaundice.

The treating doctors said that in October 2021, he was diagnosed with an uncommon condition hepatopulmonary syndrome that affects the lungs of those with advanced liver disease.

The doctors found that the child was suffering from liver cirrhosis and elevated pressure in the vein that lead to the liver (portal hypertension).  

To make things worse, most of Leon's blood was bypassing the capillaries of his lungs and not being saturated with oxygen.

As a result, he had to be administered oxygen 24/7. The problem was so serious that an oxygen cylinder had to be carried with him all the time, even while walking, sleeping, eating, using the washroom or even having food.

Leon remained confined and restricted within the bounds of this house he needed 10 litres of oxygen every minute of the day or night. As soon as COVID19 restrictions on international travel were lifted, the child’s parents rushed him to Artemis Hospital in Gurugram in the hope of finding a treatment.

Dr Giriraj S Bora, Chief, Liver Transplant and Senior, Consultant – GI and HPB Surgery, Artemis Hospital, said,  “On examination, we found that it was a case of the very high level of oxygen bypass. The child’s shunt fraction (the percentage of blood pumped out by the heart that is not oxygenated) was 67%.”

“This means that only one-third of the blood pumped by his heart was carrying oxygen,” he explained.

“Such poor figure of blood oxygenation has not been recorded in India before. The liver transplant was the only option to save the child’s life,” Dr Bora added.

Upon the arrival of the patient, the doctors decided to use a special ventilator for delivering nitric oxide to prevent further falls in oxygen levels in the child’s blood.

“The expense for this came to Rs 1 lakh per day, which the family was unable to afford. The Artemis Hospital management stepped in and supported the family financially on humanitarian grounds for the entire duration of 14 days when the child needed to be administered the gas to stabilise and maintain his oxygen levels,” he explained.

Dr Bora Said, “When the patient visited us for an initial checkup, he needed to be administered 10 litres of oxygen every minute to survive. After the transplant, he is now completely off the oxygen cylinder and is breathing naturally.

 “Leon can now lead a normal life like any other kid of his age. He will remain on drugs to suppress his immune system and prevent rejection of the liver by his body, but the dose will decrease over time. The child was in our hospital for just 26 days, but his life has got transformed now,” Dr Bora said.

The child’s mother, Nyasha Mhandu, said, “My life turned upside down when my child was diagnosed with such a serious disease. I had lost all hope and could not sleep. I still cannot believe that Leon is breathing on his own now. I thank the doctors of Artemis Hospital from the bottom of my heart for giving a new lease of life to my son. I look forward to watching him grow up into a smart young man.”


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