The La Paz hospital in Madrid announced on Tuesday that a one-year-old Spanish girl had become the first person in the world to successfully receive an intestinal transplant from a donor who passed away from heart failure.
The statement said, “The infant has since been released and is in wonderful condition at home with her parents.”
According to statistics from the Spanish health ministry, Spain is a worldwide leader in organ transplants, performing more than 102 per million residents in 2021, a rate only topped by the United States.
Because Emma’s intestine was too short, she was given an intestinal failure diagnosis at barely one month old, and her health progressively deteriorated until she had the multi-visceral transplant.
Emma got a new liver, stomach, spleen, and pancreas in addition to the intestine.
Emma’s mother told reporters, “The wonderful news is that life carries on. She is extremely courageous and proves every day that she wants to stay on alive,” before expressing gratitude to the donor’s family and the medical staff. Emma is now 17 months old, she stated.
After medical professionals determine that a deceased individual is not breathing or has a heartbeat, asystole donations are made from that person.
The donor’s organs are subsequently artificially maintained via the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation technique, despite the absence of oxygenated blood (ECMO).
Due to the peculiarities of the digestive organ, keeping an intestine from an asystole donation is challenging, which makes Emma’s situation unique.
Most donated organs come from donors who have experienced brain death but still have a beating heart since this preserves the organs.
But asystole contributions have become more commonplace since their inception, accounting for around one-third of all donations in Spain, according to La Paz.