India’s first child to have undergone liver transplant set to become doctor

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New Delhi: Life has come a full circle for Sanjay Kandasamy (23) as “the miracle baby of medicine is all set to join the profession”.

Doctors at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in the national capital are eagerly waiting for the coming April, as Kandasamy, who had made history to undergo the country’s first paediatric liver transplant as a 20-month child in 1998, will take the Hippocratic oath.

Kandasamy, who belongs to Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, is full of beans about his feat.

“This has been my ambition since childhood. I’m alive today because of the efforts of my doctors. I want to take up this noble profession to save lives. Initially, I wanted to be a surgeon, but later I realised that my interest lies in paediatrics. I am likely to specialise in paediatrics and focus on neonatology (newborns),” he said.

Kandasamy was born with a rare condition called Biliary Atresia – the congenital disorder that leads to liver failure among newborns. The liver failure occurs due to blockage in ducts that carry bile from liver to gallbladder.

His father had donated 20% of his liver for the transplant surgery.

“He was the first child in India to have successfully undergone a liver transplant. It has been 22 years since he underwent the surgical procedure. He is a classic example of long-term smooth survival after undergoing a liver transplant surgery,” said Dr Anupam Sibal, the group medical director and a senior liver specialist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital.

Dr Sibal was one of the key members of the team of doctors, who had treated Kandasamy in 1998.

Doctors, who were involved in the surgical procedure, had to face multiple challenges to ensure Kandasamy’s recovery.

“I remember he was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for about two months. We practically lived in the hospital for those two months to get him out of ICU. He was less than two years old, when he was operated on. His condition was rather critical,” reminisced Dr AS Soin, chairman, institute of liver transplantation and regenerative medicine, Medanta Hospital, Gurugram.

Dr Soin had performed the critical surgery along with Dr MR Rajasekhar at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital.

“It is one of the proudest moments in my 28-year career as a transplant surgeon. My baby patient is all set to become a doctor,” he added.

The surgical procedure has underscored that long-term smooth survival of children, who underwent liver transplant, is a reality.

“We know of around 40 children, who are leading a normal life even after 12 years of liver transplant. Globally, children have lived beyond 40 years after their transplant,” Dr Soin said.

Dr Sibal said there were a few common concerns of parents that would keep recurring during counselling sessions that are conducted before a liver transplant surgery.

“Will my child be able to go to school without any difficulty? Will my child have a normal growth and development? The latter question is more common for a girl child, where parents are eager to know whether she can start a family when she grows up. Though these are legitimate concerns, they have proven to be ill-founded,” Dr Sibal added.

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