8-year-old child travels 1500 km to receive life-saving liver transplant at Aster RV Hospital during pandemic

Bangalore: In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Aster RV Hospital has helped 8-year-old Prerna receive a lifesaving liver transplant through their affordable liver transplant initiative for children. Hailing from Madhya Pradesh, Prerna was diagnosed to have acute chronic liver failure due to auto-immune liver disease and needed a liver transplant for long-term survival. As the Covid-19 pandemic struck, her mother who is a single parent was distraught not only with the diagnosis of a serious illness but also with the potential financial cost of this transplant operation.

“In March 2020, Prerna started to develop jaundice (yellow colouring of her eyes) and was also having fluid accumulation in her abdomen. We consulted several doctors and the Gastroenterologist here in Madhya Pradesh diagnosed acute on chronic liver failure and suggested that we go for a liver transplant to save Prerna’s life. Coming from a middle-class background, I was under a lot of stress about arranging the surgery for her and additionally the pandemic added to our worries. Our friends and family came across the affordable liver transplant initiative at Aster RV Hospital and we connected with them for help,” said Prerna’s mother.

The family reached out to the team at Aster RV Hospital and a discussion followed between Dr Rajiv Lochan, Lead HPB and Liver Transplant Surgeon, Aster RV Hospital and the doctor looking after Prerna in Nagpur. After ensuring that she could safely travel down to Bangalore, the family made the arduous flight and road journey over 1500 kms during the lockdown and reached the hospital.

“Prerna was assessed and indeed an immediate liver transplant operation was necessary for her. In children who are seriously ill, the best option is for a close relative to donate a small portion of their liver, and her mother came forward to be a living liver donor. She was found to be a suitable match for her child and 40% portion of the mother’s left side of liver was given to Prerna,” said Dr. Arvind Seshadri, Consultant Liver Transplant Surgeon at Aster RV Hospital.

ACLF is a serious life threatening illness and a liver transplant is necessary to save the life of the patient. “Early referral is key and this is what happened in Prerna’s case. In addition the family took the initiative and travelled all the way down to us and we were able to treat her successfully with a complex Living donor liver transplant,” said Dr. Apurva Pande, Consultant Hepatologist and Liver Transplant Physician, Aster RV Hospital.

The family contributed close to 5 lakhs for the transplant and pre-operative preparations and tests. Her crowd-funding campaign raised close to 15 lakhs and she secured nearly 1.5 lakhs as CSR sponsorship. In keeping with the policy of ILC’s affordable Transplant program at Aster, the excess money raised will be utilised towards another needy child’s treatment.

“The child had a minor rejection in the postoperative period which was managed with the adjustment of her immunity suppressive medicines. She was discharged following 4 weeks in hospital and is on regular follow-up. We are glad to see Prerna and her mother healthy and happy. Cross subsidy, leveraging the potential of crowdfunding, CSR mandates from companies and a desire to secure the future of our nation underpin this Affordable transplant initiative. This Initiative has helped us transplant/treat close to 95 children under this programme, with the family paying between 3-5 lakhs only,” further explained Dr. Rajiv Lochan. Prerna is doing extremely well and has returned back to her native place to her family and friends but continues to be under the joint care of her local doctor and the Aster RV Integrated Liver Care Team.

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