Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals. — WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

DELHI-BASED Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals recently completed 100 liver transplants on children from the Philippines, 53 of which were done in the last two and a half years despite travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.   

The fully recovered children, aged four months to 15 years, celebrated the milestone at Hilton Manila, where they put on a fashion show and performed dance numbers.  

“[A liver transplant] allows you to get back to a normal quality of life. It’s really a lifesaving intervention and when you need it because there’s no other option, it changes lives for the child and for the family as well,” said Dr. Anupam Sibal, Apollo Hospitals group medical director and senior pediatric gastroenterologist, at the May 31 event.  

For families of afflicted children, the advocacy of Apollo Hospitals has been essential, along with charities and nongovernment organizations that fund the procedure which costs up to P5 million, excluding follow-up medication.  

Biliary atresia is a condition in babies where the bile ducts within and surrounding the liver are scarred or blocked, which can damage the organ to the point of liver failure. It’s usually characterized by jaundice, or the yellowing of an infant’s skin.  

“We’d be really happy if no one ever needed a transplant, but the reality is that 1 in 10,000 to 12,000 children are born with biliary atresia, which is the commonest condition, and for that a transplant is needed,” said Dr. Sibal. 

“So, in the foreseeable future, there will always be babies who will need a liver transplant,” he said.  

During the pandemic, the hospital group ensured that their procedures continued, with Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu S. Kumaran securing travel permissions.  

India and the Philippines are deeply committed to have a relationship that benefits our people,” said Mr. Kumaran at the event.  

The Apollo Liver Transplant Program, established in 1998, has accomplished 458 liver transplants in children from 20 countries, including the Philippines. 

“We have no specific target. As long as there is a child out there who needs it, we will do as many procedures as we can,” said Dr. Sibal. — Brontë H. Lacsamana