Home » Lifestyle » Health » There is hope in liver transplant – expert

There is hope in liver transplant – expert


DOCTORS and representatives of organizations, which are helping babies with liver diseases, meet with the children who underwent successful liver transplants at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals during a thanksgiving program in Makati City.

DOCTORS and representatives of organizations, who are helping babies with liver diseases, meet with the children who underwent successful liver transplants at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals during a thanksgiving program in Makati City.

A gastroenterology expert from India has called for more awareness campaign about liver diseases in babies in the Philippines as he met with the families of Filipino children who got a new lease of life after undergoing liver transplants in a medical facility in New Delhi.

Dr. Anupam Sibal, group director of Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in New Delhi, said people should be aware of the importance of early detection of liver diseases in babies and the medical procedures that they can avail of to save their lives.

“Clearly, there is a need to create awareness on liver diseases in babies and children because these babies come to a pediatrician or a pediatric gastroenterologist in Philippines after the babies had jaundice for a long extended period of time. Sometimes, by the time they reach an expert in the Philippines there is little that can be done in terms of hepatitic liver to recover or prevent further damage,” Sibal said during a thanksgiving ceremony at a hotel in Makati City on Sept. 9.

Sibal attended the event held to celebrate the successful liver transplants performed on 35 Filipino children with chronic liver failure in their state-of-the art medical facility.

A senior pediatric gastroenterologist and hepatologist of Apollo Hospitals, Sibal noted that those Filipino children now live a normal life after their damaged liver were replaced with new ones taken from their donors.

“The family donor has to be a relative (of the patient), have to be between the age of 18 to 55, should have no medical problems and should be blood group compatible,” Sibal said.

“The liver is a unique organ because you can take a part of it and it regenerates; and 90 percent of it regenerates within three months. So all and all, liver transplantation is a highly gratifying therapy, it’s very successful and it offers hope to those with liver failure,” he explained.

A liver transplant in India costs around P1.6 million to P1.7 million, way cheaper that the P5 million to P12-million package being offered by medical facilities in the Philippines and other Asian and Western countries.

“The cost of the liver transplant in United States is US$300,000 (P15.6 million); the cost in Singapore is US$100,000 (P5.19 million); in Apollo you get the transplant at US$33,000 (P1.7 million) ,” according to Sibal.

Asked why the price of the medical procedure in India is lower than in other countries, Sibal said it is because all the medicines and equipment they use are all made in India.

“And I think the reason why we’ve been able to offer hope to so many patients in so many countries is our high quality and competitive cost of the liver transplant,” he added.

Kaye Wenceslao, mother of one of the babies who had undergone successful liver transplant, said the P1.6-million package offered by Apollo Hospital had given them leeway to raise the fund for the urgent operation of her daughter Elle.

Baby Elle was only four months old when diagnosed with biliary atresia, a rare liver disease that occurs in infants.

She said the procedure can be done in a Philippine hospital but they were told that they have to prepare P5 million.

She said it was like finding “light at the end of the tunnel” when LITRO (Liver Transplant Operation) Babies Phils Inc. referred them to Apollo Hospital.

“We did some research and saw the track record of Apollo Hospital. They gave us a package that is affordable for us but still world class ang service,” shared the 33-year-old mother who was the donor of liver.

In two months time, the Wenceslao family was able to raise the P1.6-million fund for baby Elle operation through donations from relatives, friends and other unknown donors who saw the baby’s condition through the social media.

“Elle is now 2 years and 5 months old, perfectly healthy and active as if she never got sick,” the mother said.

Another mother, Mrs. Anna Jade Lustre, 32, said her son, Klay Khalil, was given a new life when he underwent a liver transplant in the same hospital with his 19-year-old aunt as his donor on November 13, 2018.

It was only after the operation when doctors found out that his liver failure was due to Progressive Familial Intrahepatic Cholestasis, a rare genetic disorder.

Prior to his operation, the mother recalled that they struggled hard to raise the very stiff price of liver transplant that ranges from P10 to 12 million in Philippine hospitals or the P5 million package being offered in Taiwan.

“Being just ordinary employees, we knew it would take us years before we can come up with the amount for the transplant,” Anna said.

Just the same, they started the fundraising for the baby’s operation by selling T-shirts with inspirational verses, goodies and pre-loved stuffs; loaning their house to a bank, and asking relatives’ help through social media.

“It was a blessing that we became a part of the LITRO Family Support Group, where we came upon to know an international foundation and Apollo Hospital, which pave the way for his transplant,” Anna related.

Though his time of recovery was longer and more critical than the other patients, Baby Klay came home after 33 days in India and is now living a normal life.

THE BASISTER family appeals for help in raising the P1.6-million cost of liver transplant of Baby Jhon Andrei who was diagnosed with biliary atresia.

THE BASISTER family appeals for help in raising the P1.6-million cost of liver transplant of Baby Jhon Andrei who was diagnosed with biliary atresia.

The stories of Baby Elle and Baby Klay and the other successful liver transplant cases inspire another mother, Joan Atilano, to continue her fight to save her son, Jhon Andrei Basister, 1 year and 6 months old, who has been diagnosed with biliary atresia.

After undergoing a series of clinical tests, Baby Jhon was given a clearance by local doctors to undergo liver transplant at Apollo Hospital with his father as his donor, but the family is still raising the P1.6 million.

“Pwede na siyang maoperahan kaso wala pa kaming schedule kasi kulang pa ang pondo namin. Ang pondo pa lang naming ngayon ay nasa P300,000, ang operation ay P1.6 million,” Joan told Tempo.

Joan, a resident of Look, Tablas in Romblon province, said she left her job in Borcay to attend to the medical needs of her baby. The child’s father also worked in Boracay but eventually lost his job.

Aside from asking for donations through her Facebook account, Joan said her family is selling T-shirts for a cause and “ukay-ukay” clothes to raise the needed fund for Baby Jhon’s urgent operation.

She said they discovered Apollo Hospital through LITRO Babies Philippines Inc. And Hope Foundation as well as families of liver transplant babies who are now guiding them in their journey to save the child.

Dr. Sibal said he is amazed with the way the communities and groups cooperate to support the families of children with liver diseases in the Philippines.

“We see the amazing spirits of the Filipino families. They support each other and help each other, whether it’s about answering questions, helping with their visa or fund raising, or just providing a shoulder to lean on. It is something unique that encourage us more to work closely with the Filipino families,” he said.

“One who has a child with liver failure need not be hopeless because there is hope, there is hope in liver transplant. It is accessible and doable. We’ve been doing it for nearly 21 years and it has a success of 90 percent,” he said.

Apollo Hospitals Delhi had performed the very first successful pediatric liver transplant in India in November 1998 on a 20-month-old baby who is now a third year medical student leading a normal life, according to Dr. Sibal. (Emily G. Bugarin)