A father in China who helped give his daughters the gift of life has now seen the favor returned after his children donated parts of their livers for a life-saving transplant.
Central European News (CEN) reported that a hospital in Hong Kong carried out the operation, which reportedly marked the world’s first live liver transplant involving a man and two of his daughters.
Cheng Chi-ming, a security guard from Macau, on mainland China, was diagnosed with acute liver failure because of hepatitis B. Prior to the operation, he had been in the final stages of a coma and would have died within a week without a liver transplant.
Doctors tested Chi-ming’s three daughters’ blood types and found two of them— Kei Kei, 22, and Lam Lam, 23— were matches for their father. But the livers alone were too small, so doctors opted to use portions of each girl’s liver to supply their father with a properly sized organ. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the liver can regenerate to restore lost mass and adjust its size to that of the organism. The transplanted liver can still maintain function in the body while growing.
Chi-ming’s operation was notable because doctors placed the donated parts of each woman’s liver in the patient’s body at the same time. Traditionally such an operation would involve separate procedures for each part of the liver, but by doing both sections at once doctors halved the typical procedure time to only 55 minutes.
"Dual liver transplants come with ethical issues in the medical world, and we didn’t make the decision easily because it involved the lives of three people,” Dr. Lo Chung-mau, who was part of the transplant team, told CEN.
"If one donor is enough, we will absolutely choose that way,” he added. “Ideally if we had enough liver donations from the deceased, no healthy people would have to be bothered at all.”
CEN reported that Chi-ming and his daughters are recovering.