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Medicine

Seven-year-old Jay Crouch recovering after epic five-organ transplant: two kidneys, liver, pancreas, bowel

‘I want to say thank you to my mum for looking after me and my grandma and granddad, who have been telling me every day that I’m getting better’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2018, 9:37am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2018, 9:58am

A seven-year-old boy has become the first child in Britain to undergo a five-organ transplant in a single operation.

Jay Crouch, who has a condition that left his small intestine twisted and has caused complications with other organs since he was six weeks old, is recovering at home after receiving two kidneys, a pancreas, liver and small bowel from a single donor during the 10-hour operation at Birmingham children’s hospital.

The surgery, which became necessary after the strain of continuous treatment for his condition became too much for his body, has allowed him to swallow food for the first time.

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His mother, Katie Freestone, 28, said their relatives were “all absolutely amazed at the incredible progress Jay has made in a relatively short space of time”, after doctors said he was recovering well from the complex operation. “There also aren’t enough words to say thank you to the donor and their family and, while we’re thrilled that Jay has been given this chance, we’re also incredibly aware of the sadness and tragedy that another family had to endure to make this possible,” she said.

The operation required a team of 12, including anaesthetists, two surgeons, five nurses and three junior doctors – as well as additional medical staff who were involved with the patient’s wider care.

Freestone thanked them, saying it was “fantastic” to be able to take her son home. “It means we can finally get back to our own routine and Jay can be comfortable in his own space.”

Doctors diagnosed Jay, who is from Leicestershire, with short bowel syndrome after discovering that his small intestine was twisted. The condition prevented him from eating and digesting food, meaning he had to be fed intravenously and required continuous treatment. But that led to the failure of his organs, making the operation necessary.

The hospital said that after the procedure Jay was being fed through a nasogastric tube, supported by oral feeding, and was working towards a full diet in the coming years.

The seven-year-old said: “I want to say thank you to my mum for looking after me and my grandma and granddad, who have been telling me every day that I’m getting better.” Jay also thanked medical staff.

The hospital says its staff perform about 50 solid organ transplant operations a year, the majority of which are single-organ transplants.

Khalid Sharif, a consultant surgeon and the hospital’s lead for transplantation, said: “It’s incredibly rare for this many organs to be successfully transplanted at once and shows the difference that organ donors make to the lives of others. Without the generosity and selflessness of donors, their families and loved ones, such life-saving procedures simply couldn’t take place.

“We couldn’t be happier with the progress Jay has made so far, but this will obviously need very vigilant monitoring and support over the coming months and years.”