Many children spent Thanksgiving eve eagerly awaiting the festivities of the following day. Eight-year-old Kyree Beachem spent November 25th in an operating room undergoing a rare triple-organ transplant.
Beachem was born with Hirschsprung’s disease, which means that the nerve cells in her colon did not properly form. The lack of nerves meant that her body was unable to pass bowel movements and feces would continue to build up without being eliminated. The buildup of stagnant feces creates a breeding ground for bacteria and places patients at risk of life-threatening infections. Treatment usually involves surgery to create a bypass around the affected area or, in Beachem’s case, a transplant.
Beachem’s brother, Nico, was also born with Hirschsprung’s disease and received a small bowel transplant three years ago. So far the operation has shown no signs of rejection. Beachem herself received a small bowel transplant in 2010 but her body rejected the organ ten days later. The rejection meant that she required a constant connection to an IV—roughly 22 hours each day—to prevent the process from killing her. Unfortunately the treatment caused complications to her liver. Further complications struck the child’s pancreas, putting her in need of three new organs. Last July her condition began to worsen and her position on the transplant waiting list was moved up.
Beachem has been waiting for five years for the organs she just recently received. Most transplants are for single organs and usually a kidney, heart, lung, or liver at that. Kyree’s combination of a new small bowel, pancreas, and liver is rare and not an easy operation to perform.
The operation, which took over 12 hours to finish, was performed at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburg. The hospital was the best choice for such a rare combination of transplants since its surgeons perform more pediatric transplants than any other in the country.
At this time, Kyree has been moved to a pediatric intensive care unit to recover from the surgery. She will likely need to stay for several more days at the minimum as doctors monitor for signs of complications or rejection. Once she returns home, Kyree will most likely need to go through an element of training to learn how to control her new bowel. The little girl has a positive outlook, though, and hopes to return to school soon and play with her friends once again.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Hirschsprung’s Disease.” Mayo Clinic web site, March 28, 2013; http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hirschsprungs-disease/basics/treatment/con-20027602.
Pratt, S., “Little Girl Has Rare Multi-organ Transplant Surgery,” CNN web site, November 26, 2015; http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/25/health/little-girl-successful-multi-organ-transplant/index.html.
Shaffer, R., “Young Girl With Hirschsprung’s Disease Inspires with Smiles,” Ellwood City PA News web site, November 24, 2015; http://ellwoodcity.org/2014/11/13/young-girl-with-hirschprungs-disease-inspires-with-smiles/.