Baby girl receives pioneering transplant
A FOUR-MONTH-OLD girl has become the 50th patient to receive a life-saving transplant at Great Ormond Street Hospital using a pioneering treatment for a rare disorder.
The hospital is one of only two centres in the world to perform thymus transplants – which sees tissue that would otherwise be discarded after heart operations donated to children born without a working thymus gland.
Babies born with the condition, known as athymia, can be at risk of dying within the first two years of life without a transplant.
While the first coronavirus lockdown in March last year saw transplants initially suspended, Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) managed to treat 10 patients in 2020 – double the average number performed in each of the previous three years – after the programme was granted special permission from NHS England to continue.
GOSH carried out its first thymus transplant in 2009, and the four-month-old, a girl from Gatringen in Germany, became its 50th patient to undergo the life-saving procedure in March.
Professor Graham Davies, who leads the thymus transplantation programme, said: “We’re thrilled to have reached this important milestone and have given so many children the chance to live a relatively normal life.”
The thymus is situated in the chest, and tissue is normally removed to gain access to the heart for surgery on congenital heart disease in children. The thymus gland produces T-cells, the white blood cells which fight infections.
The only other centre to perform thymus transplants is Duke University in the USA.