Biliary atresia, a condition where ducts that drain bile from the liver do not have normal openings, accounts for 40 per cent of liver diseases among children. While liver transplant can offer a new lease of life in such cases, doctors say that the condition can be treated through kasai procedure, if diagnosed early, and in some cases transplant can be avoided.
At least one in 10,000 children across the world are born with biliary atresia, a condition where the ducts that drain bile from the liver don’t have normal openings. As a result, the bile that also helps carrying toxins and waste products out of the body becomes trapped, builds up, and damages the liver. Most often, since 90 per cent of new-borns have jaundice in the first three days after birth, a clear sign like white stools is missed and the condition is not treated on time.
Dr Naresh Shanmugam, paediatric hepatologist, Global Hospitals, says that in such cases, a procedure called kasai where a part of small bowel is attached to the liver, is carried out. Dr Naresh says, “In some cases, kasai, a palliative surgery, is highly successful. However, it has to be done within eight weeks of birth, after which the success rate drops rapidly.”
Brought to Global Hospitals on Monday, Gyana Sai, is the child of Ramanappa and Saraswathi from Chittoor, who hail from a low income family. She will soon undergo a transplant at Global Health City.
While the infant underwent a kasai procedure three months after birth, it turned out to unsuccessful and transplant was the only option left. Dr Naresh added, “We have started evaluating the father as a donor, who will be able to donate 10 to 20 per cent of his liver for the procedure. The transplant will be carried out in a couple of weeks. The baby will be able to lead a normal life after the transplant.”
Dr Naresh adds that while it results in life threatening complications, the condition has to be diagnosed early if it has to be treated effectively. “Most often, even doctors miss the condition as it overlaps with jaundice. There are stool charts available for reference to understand when to suspect biliary atresia in an infant,” he said.