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September 17, 2010

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Girl growing again thanks to her mother's liver

A GIRL with a rare genetic disease that stopped her growing left Zhongshan Hospital yesterday following a successful liver transplant.

A 200 gram section of her mother's liver replaced 16-year-old Zhu Chenchen's 2.5 kilogram liver, three times the size of a healthy organ.

Doctors said the girl was recovering well from the July 8 operation and her mother was able to go home 10 days after the transplant.

Before surgery Zhu was 1.2 meters tall and weighed 22 kilograms. She had already grown 3 centimeters and was putting on weight and doctors said she would grow like any normal, healthy child from now on.

Zhu suffered from genetic glycogen storage disease, or GSD, which affects the production of glucose.

One in every 50,000 to 100,000 newborn babies has the condition.

"Food first becomes glycogen at the liver, which will process glycogen into glucose for use by the brain, organs and muscles," said Dr Fan Jia, the girl's chief surgeon. "For Zhu, the disease made her liver unable to transfer glycogen into glucose, the energy for the body. So she was only the height and weight of a child of five and six and her liver was so big due to the accumulation of glycogen."

Fan said most children with the disease died before adulthood and Zhu might have had only one or two years to live. A liver transplant was the only way to save her life, Fan said.

All her family members were eager to donate a part of their liver to save the girl but her mother proved the perfect match.

The family sold an apartment to raise money for the 200,000 yuan (US$29,700) operation.

Relatives, friends and Zhu's classmates also contributed. The hospital also lowered the price of treatment which should have been between 300,000 and 400,000 yuan.


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