By Ashley Tang | Saturday, 10 Aug 2019
New partnership: Prof Chen (second from right) shaking hands with UM Faculty of Medicine dean Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman at the MoU signing ceremony between UM and Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine at Universiti Malaya in Petaling Jaya. Looking on are Dr Kamila (second from left) and Prof Xia.
PETALING JAYA: Two young children have been given a new lease of life after successful paediatric living donor liver transplants involving surgeons from the University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) and Renji Hospital, a teaching hospital affiliated with the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine.
The transplants for the children were a first for UMMC following the provision of adult liver transplants two years ago.
Nur Syafiqa Damia, 10, and Idzyraf Al Sheeraz, 14 months, suffered from biliary atresia, a condition that leads to liver damage and death if left untreated.
Idzyraf’s mother Aminah Izzati Hamidi, 28, was the donor, giving up 30% of her liver to save her child.
UMMC’s head of liver and hepatobiliary and division head of general surgery, Assoc Prof Dr Yoong Boon Koon, said both surgeries involved more than 20 experts from UMMC and seven from Renji Hospital from Aug 6 to 7.
Dr Yoong said Nur Syafiqa’s case was urgent as she was getting very ill.
“However Idzyraf’s case was relatively straightforward, which was why we decided to carry on with the surgery, ” he said after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine and Universiti Malaya yesterday.
At the ceremony, UM deputy vice-chancellor (academic and international) Dr Kamila Ghazali said UMMC intends to develop a full-fledged paediatric liver transplant service following comprehensive knowledge and skill transfer over the next three years from its Chinese counterpart.
Renji Hospital vice-president Prof Xia Qiang and Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine chancellor Prof Dr Chen Guoqiang were also present.
Liver transplant service for adults in UMMC started in 2017 in collaboration with Hong Kong’s Queen Mary University, and to date, the hospital has successfully conducted four adult liver transplant surgeries.
“The need for liver transplants in the country is high, hence, with the comprehensive training added to their experience of adult liver transplants, UMMC is now sufficiently prepared to perform one to two cases per month independently, depending on its complexity, ” she said.
She added that as the surgery could now be done locally, this would give new hope to patients, especially children with chronic liver diseases.
Dr Yoong noted the high costs in liver transplants and called for support from the government and the corporate sector.
Each transplant costs RM120, 000, aside from the immunosuppressant medication costing about RM1, 000 per month.
He, however, said that there was evidence to suggest that in five to 10 years, some patients could stop taking the immunosuppressants.