Surgery brings boy's appetite back

Shanghai Children's Medical Center has performed its fourth transplant of part of a small intestine to replace the esophagus of a child.

Shanghai Children's Medical Center has transplanted part of a 11-year-old boy's small intestine into his thorax to replace his damaged esophagus, the center announced Tuesday.

This is the center's fourth operation of using the jejunum, the part of the small intestine between the duodenum and the ileum, to replace a child's esophagus. The boy has now left the left the hospital and has resumed a normal diet.

The patient, nicknamed Dong Dong, drank some sulphuric acid stored in a soda bottle one year ago. His esophagus was badly burned and fused together, leaving only a very small gap, barely enough to allow a toothpick to pass. Dong Dong found it impossible to swallow any solids and lived on milk and supplements.

In the past year, his family took him to several places seeking treatment but without success. Some inappropriate treatment even landed him in the ICU. Dong Dong was malnourished and about 50 percent underweight.

In July, Dong Dong's family went to the center for help. His doctor Chen Qimin and the general surgery department decided to do an auto-transplant and replace the damaged esophagus with part of his small intestine.

After a 9-hour operation, an 11-centimeter piece of gut was was moved to where the scar tissue was, and the blood vessels on the jejunum connected to those in his chest.

Chen said the operation is a new way to treat the esophagus and is used on hypopharyngeal and esophagal cancers. It's a difficult operation that requires the  cooperation of several specialists.

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