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Parents save son by each giving him a lung

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Marius and his family. Photo: MHH
09:30 CEST+02:00
A boy with cystic fibrosis is starting a new life after German doctors performed the country's first double living lung transplant, giving him a lung from each of his mother and father.

Twelve-year-old Marius waited in vain for a donor as he struggled to breathe and his quality of life declined.

“We were desperately waiting for an organ, waiting for a call every day,” his father Lars said.

By the time of the operation in April he was in such a dire situation that he was attached to both a ventilation machine and a heart-lung machine.

“The transplant was his last chance,” said Dr Gregor Warnecke, supervising doctor. The hospital would not have operated on his parents if it had not been absolutely necessary.

Marius was extremely lucky that not one but both of his parents had compatible blood groups – and their lungs were bigger than his, another precondition for a successful transplant.

“If we had enough organ donors in Germany, the doctors would not have to resort to living donors,” said Lars.

“We are happy and thankful that we and the doctors were able to help Marius.”

He and Marius' mother Anja had no doubts about each donating a lung to save their boy. “It was immediately clear,” she said.

Surgeons at the Hannover Medical University (MHH) performed a triple operation, using three operating rooms in parallel, with a lung being removed from each parent, and then implanted into Marius.

“The operations went well, the parents were able to leave hospital after ten days,” said Warnecke. Marius' operation lasted six hours.

“The transplantation worked well with Marius. We were able to remove the tubes from him two days after the operation,” said Warnecke.

Marius was released from hospital after 155 days. And although his quality of life has improved enormously – he can play football and ride his bike – his immune system is still weak and he is not yet able to go to school.

He must take a series of drugs – and his cystic fibrosis has not gone, meaning there remains a chance that his new lungs could also be affected.

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His parents both said they had recovered well.

Cystic fibrosis is an incurable genetic condition which means the body produces mucus that is thicker than normal, and which gradually fills the lungs, reducing and eventually stopping the sufferer's ability to breathe.

Cases like this one are more frequent in countries such as Japan and South Korea, where religious considerations make post-mortal organ donations rare, the hospital said.

The Local/DPA/hc

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