The donor was a girl born after an emergency caesarean at Hammersmith Hospital in London whose brain had been starved of oxygen during pregnancy, according to a report published today in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. When it became clear that she wouldn't survive, the parents gave their consent for their daughter’s kidneys and liver cells to be used for the benefit of other patients.
After determining her death, both kidneys and liver cells were retrieved and transplanted to two recipients, neonatal specialists Gaurav Atreja and Sunit Godambe at Hammersmith Hospital wrote in the published article.
Current guidelines make it difficult for neonatal donors to be identified, and the Royal College of Paediatrics is expected to publish new guidelines on diagnosing death in infants between 37 weeks and two months. This would help standardise neonatal organ donation, the authors said.
Transplants from infants, while rare, have been performed in other countries.
“This case has set a milestone in the care of newborns in the UK,” the scientists wrote. “We hope that neonatal units across the UK will actively start thinking about this noble cause, which makes the grieving family’s journey easier and has the potential to transform another life.”