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Siriraj gives ailing man new lease of life with triple organ transplant

May 02. 2018
Siriraj Hospital officials announce yesterday that Asia’s first successful combined heart-liver-kidney transplant was carried out at the hospital late last year.
Siriraj Hospital officials announce yesterday that Asia’s first successful combined heart-liver-kidney transplant was carried out at the hospital late last year.
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By The Nation

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THAILAND has become the first country in Asia to successfully perform a combined heart-liver-kidney transplant.

The Bangkok-based Siriraj Hospital made the announcement at a press conference yesterday. 

The actual operation, which has changed the life of 26-year-old Rachanon Rungsawang for the better, took place late last year. The results were good and he was discharged from the hospital on February 23. 

“I would like to thank doctors, nurses, organ donors and all those involved in my treatment. I am grateful that you have given me a new life,” Rachanon said. 

Having developed kidney problems at the age of eight, Rachanon needed haemodialyses by the time he entered university. After his graduation, he had no chance of getting a job because of his poor health. He felt easily tired after exertion and had a swollen abdomen due to a large amount of fluid accumulation. His symptoms did not improve with dialysis and medication, and frequent drainage of abdominal fluid was needed. He was subsequently diagnosed with heart failure due to a problem with |his heart muscle, which led to |cirrhosis of the liver.

He was transferred to the heart failure clinic in Siriraj Hospital on August 24 last year, where doctors recommended a combined heart-liver-kidney transplant.

“I decided to undergo the operation because without it my life was just a suffering,” he said.

Following the successful operation, Rachanon said he could now live a normal life. 

“I can have three meals a day, go to work, and even take care of my grandma. I can take my grandma to a market on my motorcycle,” he said happily. 

Siriraj Hospital’s director Assoc Prof Visit Vamvanij attributed the success to a multidisciplinary team consisting of transplant surgeons, cardiologists, nephrologists, hepatologists, anaesthesiologists, pharmacists, transplant coordinators, nurses and all supporting workers.

“The transplant involved complex procedures,” he said.

Assoc Prof Yongyut Sirivatanauksorn – the vice-director of Siriraj Hospital, the chairman of Siriraj Organ Transplantation Centre and a liver transplant surgeon – said the operation took 12 hours and 5 minutes, starting with the heart, followed by the liver and the kidney. 

Professor Prasit Watanapa, the dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital, said this first combined heart-liver-kidney transplant is not only a feather in the cap for Siriraj Hospital, but also a reflection of Thailand’s potential to become an excellent medical centre that always provides high-quality medical services with international standards to everyone.

“Siriraj Hospital carried out the first kidney transplant in 1973,” he said. 

He said the hospital has to date performed 1,298 kidney transplants, 321 liver transplants and 67 heart transplants.

Siriraj Hospital is now one of the largest transplantation centres in Thailand and in Southeast Asia. Transplantation is now the standard treatment for patients with end-stage organ functions. Transplantation is mostly done with a single organ; however, some patients with more than one organ failure would need two or more organs (multi-organ) to be transplanted at the same time.

Prasert said organ transplants would not have been possible without someone agreeing to donate their organs. 

Rachananon’s mother, Sopa Rungsawang, said she would encourage her son to enter the monkhood and make merit for his organ donors. 

“Thanks to them, he is no longer in suffering,” she said.


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