A team led by Dr Vivek Vij, Director — Liver Transplant, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon(INDIA), conducted a novel surgery to save the life of a 21-year-old Iraqi woman. The patient suffered from Budd Chiari Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes blood clots in liver vessels, obstructing the flow of blood. Due to the blockage in the hepatic veins (vessels that carry blood from the liver) her liver had blackened and shrunk, and was gradually “dying”. Her inferior vena cava (which carries blood back to the heart) was also blocked. While the disorder was diagnosed in her native country, she was refused surgery in view of the complexity involved.
The patient required a transplant urgently and fortunately, her brother was a match. As the inferior vena cava was completely blocked, the doctors decided to suture the liver “directly” to the heart. To do so, the heart had to be repositioned in the abdominal cavity. “We decided not to open the recipient’s chest and instead, pulled the heart down through a narrow gap made in the diaphragm, which separates the chest and the abdomen. Thus, we significantly reduced the risk of infection due to a large opening in the chest and also avoided a scar,” explained DrVij.