Liver transplants for children
The Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc have developed an internationally recognised expertise in paediatric living donor liver transplants.
Over the last twenty years, more than 300 children have received living donor liver transplants at the Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc. The Liver Transplant Unit has also played an important part in developing this technique.
The liver is the only organ in the human body that can regenerate. The 20% removed from the donor is regenerated within months. And the graft grows with the child. This procedure has a survival rate of over 95%.
Indications for liver transplantation in children
In children, the pathologies requiring this intervention differ from those in adults. They are principally atresia (obstruction) of the bile ducts, liver cancer, cholestasis (bile stagnation) or fulminant hepatitis. The majority of the young patients who receive a liver transplant at the Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc are under the age of 5.
Other hepatobiliary procedures practised at the Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc
The unit also offers specialist surgical treatment of liver tumours and portal hypertension in children.
Partner doctors abroad
Three quarters of the children who receive living donor liver transplants at the Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc come from abroad. They are sent to us by partner doctors who, for example, have been introduced to this technique at the Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc, while on training here. Over the years, the Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc’s Liver Transplant Unit has developed networks in Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Romania and other Eastern European countries and Algeria.
Before the operation, our partner doctor provides the information required by the team at the Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc to take care of the patients (recipient and donor). As with all transplants, liver transplants require lifelong care, not only to mitigate the risk of rejection but also to control the possible impact of immunosuppressive treatments on the child’s health. Accordingly, the Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc’s Transplant Unit only works with partner doctors who are able to provide this care once the children have returned to their own country.
Other conditions of access to treatment
In addition to liver compatibility between the candidate donor and the child, the donor must also be:
- A close relative. In the vast majority of cases, it will be one of the child’s parents;
- In perfect health and no contraindications to surgery (being overweight, for example).