First combined organ transplant of its kind saves 6-year-old's life

CBS Miami
CBS Miami

(CBS News) Organ transplants save lives. In 6-year-old Angela Bushi's case, it took a combined organ transplant to save her life. She received a new liver, pancreas, and two kidneys.

Angela had been diagnosed with Wolcott-Rallison Syndrome, a rare disease that has killed just about every child who has it, including Angela's infant sister, CBS Miami WFOR reported. The condition is characterized by early infancy diabetes, growth retardation (including what's commonly known as dwarfism), and severe liver failure.

"It's a very rare genetic syndrome. Last count in the medical literature last night was 82... published cases," the girl's genetics specialist Dr. Olaf Bodamer, told CBS Miami. "In 15 years of doing genetics in pediatrics and adult medicine I've never encountered a case before."

Valbona Bushi, Angela's mom, knew her daughter's liver was failing because she had witnessed it before in her younger sister, MSNBC reported. So she rushed Angela to the hospital.

Doctors at Holtz Children's Hospital at the University of Miami, where the procedure was completed, said that a quadruple organ transplant, the first of its kind, could save her life.

"By replacing [the] organs, Angela is protected from liver failure and kidney failure," Dr. Andreas Tzakis, chief of the liver/GI transplant program at the University of Miami School of Medicine, told CBS Miami.

The surgery took 14 hours and went smoothly. Angela is now in recovery.

"We have a guarded optimism for Angela," Dr. Tzakis said. Angela has to avoid children with viruses and infections as she recovers, but will be able to play like other 6-year-olds and will probably not need other surgeries in the future, doctors said.

WebMD has more on organ transplants.