Objective: The authors report on experience with liver transplantation for infants younger than 1 year of age. Summary Background Data: Over the last 15 years, orthotopic liver transplant has become the only lifesaving procedure available for infants with end stage liver disease. Many transplant centers initially required infants to reach a specific weight or age to minimize morbidity and modality. Size-appropriate infant donors also were uncommon. As a result, many children, in the first few years of life, died of their disease. The availability of reduced-size cadaveric and living related liver transplants has offered the ability to transplant the young infant with liver failure. Methods: The authors instituted a program to aggressively transplant infants with liver failure in the first year of life using both cadaveric and living-related liver donors. Results: Between June 1991 and January 1995, 13 infants were transplanted for rapidly progressive liver failure. Infant age ranged from 4 to 11 months (mean, 7.5 months). The cause of liver failure included biliary atresia (11), α1-antitrypsin deficiency (1), and liver failure secondary to echovirus 7 (1). The United Network for Organ Sharing status at the time of transplant ranged from status 4, intensive care unit bound (4 patients); status 3, hospitalized (4 patients); or status 2, failing at home (5 patients). Six patients (46%) received cadaveric whole organ (2) or segmental transplants (4). Seven patients (54%) received left lateral segment living-related transplants from parental donors. After operation, patients received cyclosporine or FK506-based immunosuppression. Three patients (23%) required four retransplants (two cadaveric for primary nonfunction; one living-related for graft thrombosis in the face of fungal infection and bile leak). Postoperative complications included primary nonfunction (15%), rejection (85%), graft vascular thrombosis (15%, two of three revascularized successfully), bacterial and fungal infections (77%), and viral infections (46%). Epstein-Barr virus-associated lymphoproliferative developed in two patients (15%). Intestinal perforation requiring reoperation developed in two patients (15%). Bile leaks requiring reoperation or transhepatic stinting or both developed in three patients (23%). Two patients died in the perioperative period (< 1 month) from a combination of primary nonfunction or graft thrombosis and sepsis. Overall survival was 85%, ranging from 11.0 months to 45 years. Conclusions: Orthotopic liver transplantation in infants younger than 1 year of age poses significant challenges from technical and infectious complications. Despite these barriers, overall patient survival is comparable to that of older children and adults.
ASJC Scopus subject areas