Four organs transplanted in a single operation for the very first time!


For the first time in Belgium, surgeons at UZ Leuven have succeeded in transplanting all four organs located in the abdominal cavity of a young child during a single operation.

The young patient's stomach, liver, pancreas and small intestine were transplanted at the same time. The two-year-old was suffering from a genetic disease that caused a nerve disorder in the intestines. As a result, the child could only ingest food through a catheter.

Such a surgical procedure, known as a multivisceral transplantation, presented a real challenge requiring intense collaboration between various specialists including transplant surgeons, specialised anaesthetists and resuscitators, interventional radiologists, perfusionists, gastrointestinal and liver disease specialists, paediatricians, transplant coordinators and nurses.

Two surgical teams had to operate on the donor and the recipient simultaneously in order to shorten organ preservation times, as intestines in particular must be transferred from one body to another very quickly.

Such an invasive operation also entailed major risks for the patient's cardiovascular system and metabolism, particularly when removing the diseased organs and then restoring blood flow to the new organs after implantation. But the operation was a success, although the young patient will have to be monitored for the rest of his life.

Today, UZ Leuven boasts an international reference centre for intestinal transplantation thanks to the Leuven Intestinal Failure and Transplantation Center (LIFT), led by Professors Tim Vanuytsel, Laurens Ceulemans and Jacques Pirenne.

This multivisceral transplantation in a young child is a first for Eurotransplant, which covers eight countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Slovenia.