Baby becomes youngest organ donor in Britain after dying at five weeks as kidneys are given to 22-year-old woman
- Unnamed five-week-old child died from heart failure earlier this year
- Kidneys from baby transplanted into 22-year-old Samira Kauser by surgeons at St James's University Hospital in Leeds
- Healthcare assistant from Halifax, West Yorkshire, had kidney failure due to genetic condition
- Procedure declared a success after six months of monitoring
An infant just five weeks old became the youngest organ donor in Britain, saving a woman dying of kidney failure.
The tiny organs were transplanted into Samira Kauser after the child died of heart failure.
Miss Kauser, a 22-year-old healthcare assistant, said: 'Words cannot express the gratitude I feel to the parents of this baby. My life was standing still – now I can live it.
Saved: Samira Kauser, 22, received a kidney from the youngest donor in the UK, a 5-week-old baby
'They have lost so much more than I can ever comprehend. Their only solace is that someone else has been able to carry on with their life. It is a massive gift.'
The seven-hour operation was carried out at St James's University Hospital in Leeds by surgeon Niaz Ahmad. He said that previously there had been a cultural taboo about using donors so young but that consensus is being swept away due to a chronic shortage of donors.
Kidneys fully function at around 37 weeks in the womb so could technically be transplanted into an adult from that time.
Mr Ahmad said: 'For a number of years, there has been a mental block about using such tiny kidneys, a feeling that they would be too small and not work.
'There was also a cultural thing among surgeons that we had never used this age group, because of the emotional difficulty of asking parents of a young baby if they were willing. But there is such an acute shortage of organs, that we are now prepared to do this, and this case, I hope, shows that it can work.'
Pain-staking: The seven-hour transplant was carried out by surgeons at the St James's University Hospital in Leeds, pictured, and has now been declared a success after six months of monitoring
'BEATING HEART BABIES'
The UK Donation Ethics Committee is considering the use of organs from 'beating heart' babies.
These are children being kept alive on ventilators but are certified as brain dead.
A working group set up by the British Association of Perinatal Medicine is working with the committee to discuss the controversial method.
The practice, already used in adults and older children, allows medics to use a greater number of organs - particularly the heart and small intestines - as they can be maintained while the patient is kept alive on a ventilator.
With a decision on the method is expected within six months.
After the baby died earlier this year following a major infection, Mr Ahmad was told that the parents wanted to donate the baby's kidneys, which were only 4cm long.
Miss Kauser, from Halifax, had suffered more than 90 per cent renal failure due to a genetic condition that caused cysts to damage her kidneys beyond repair. She spent nine hours every night on a dialysis machine.
After six months of careful monitoring, the operation has been declared a success. The kidneys are functioning well and have grown to 7cm, with the potential to reach 75 per cent of adult size. Miss Kauser, who works at Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax, plans to get married next year – something she never wanted to do while on dialysis.
She said in an interview: 'I remember the time the call came through. It was 1.48am … Then I found out it was a child who had died and I felt so sad. I thought about the parents and how much they wanted to donate and I knew I had to have the operation, even though I was scared.'
Joe Brierley, of the British Association of Perinatal Medicine, said organ donation from babies is an important step when there are more than 7,000 people on transplant waiting lists.
He said: 'This should be something we offer as a suggestion to families of dying babies … it is something positive arising from a total tragedy.'
The UK Donation Ethics Committee is considering the use of organs from babies who are kept alive on ventilators but are certified as brain-dead.
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