Prematurely born baby donates kidneys to patient in need
A premature baby born during the 29th week of pregnancy and weighing 1.07 kilograms became the youngest and lightest organ donor in the nation. Her kidneys were donated after death to successfully save an adult with uremia, said officials from Shanghai's Renji Hospital on Tuesday.
The baby died on the second day after birth. Her two kidneys, measuring 2.5 and 2.9 centimeters in length, were transplanted into the patient, who has been discharged after kidney function became nearly perfectly normal, and the two kidneys have grown from the size of winter jujubes into eggs after receiving the organs over one month ago.
The father of the baby said they were longing for her delivery. When they couldn't keep her, the family decided to donate her useful organs to continue her life in another way.
According to Dr Li Dawei from Renji's kidney transplant team, infants' blood vessels are much slimmer than that of adult donors, presenting bigger challenges to all medical staff.
"For such a small and light donor, any mistake in the process can lead to failure of the transplant surgery," said Dr Zhang Ming, chief surgeon of the operation. "We spent four to five hours trimming the donated kidneys."
Zhang said that a kidney transplant using a newborn baby's organ is an extreme surgery. Children's organ donation is a new phenomenon since China established its national organ donation and transplant system in 2015. The entire organ transplant field is working hard to improve clinical capability and regulate the practice. Due to the lack of donated organs and doctors' increasing experience, the minimum donor age has been lowered repeatedly.
Experts said that kidneys donated by newborn babies present a very challenging surgery, with the likelihood of failure high. But kidneys from newborns are also a kind of high-quality donated organ, as fetal kidneys are the same as those of adults after the organs form, and they can adapt to the recipient soon after a successful transplant and perform the same functions as a mature kidney.