BOSTON (CBS) – An 11-year-old Cape Cod girl is alive today, because a doctor decided to take a chance. “I had no other choice,” said Dr. Heung Bae Kim of Children’s Hospital, “either we do the procedure, or she doesn’t make it.”
It was in January, when Hannah Swift came down with what her mother thought was the flu. Then, when Hannah’s parents saw her skin color changing, they rushed her to Cape Cod Hospital, where doctors immediately sent her to Children’s Hospital in Boston. “It was shocking when they told us she had total liver failure,” said Hannah’s mom, Carolyn Swift.
Doctors had only a few hours, and only one liver available to transplant. The problem was that the donor liver didn’t match Hannah’s blood type. So Dr. Kim decided to do something that hadn’t been done in 20 years at the hospital. He would “trick” Hannah’s body into thinking the donor liver matched. “We exchanged a large percentage of her plasma, and made it into the donor-type plasma,” said Dr. Kim. “It made her body think it was a proper liver.”
And it worked. Hannah is now home, and progressing and so far, her body is accepting the donor liver. “I don’t really know how they did it,” she said, “to get it from another person, and put it inside me, and make it work? It’s amazing.”