Infant Receives Portion of Father’s Liver at Strong Memorial Hospital; First Living-Related Organ Donation in Upstate New York

March 01, 1999

The first living-related liver transplant in Upstate New York was successfully performed on a six month-old baby girl by surgeons at the University of Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital. The surgery was performed on Monday, February 8.

The recipient, Savannah Warner of Binghamton, N.Y., was born with a rare congenital defect known as biliary atresia. The condition results when the bile ducts fail to function properly, preventing bile from draining from the liver. Over time, the liver becomes damaged and it loses its ability to function.

Savannah’s condition caused her to be hospitalized periodically since she was three months of age. Doctors had originally planned to wait until a liver from a suitable donor became available, but Savannah’s condition deteriorated so quickly in early February that living-related organ donation was the only option.

Tissue typing tests proved that Savannah’s father, Robert Warner, 28, was a good match and surgeons removed the left lobe of Rob’s liver in a three and a half hour surgery on February 8. Savannah was in an adjoining operating room, where the transplant team was waiting to replace her damaged liver with the section of her father’s liver.

Savannah’s surgery lasted nearly six hours and tests show the new liver to be functioning normally. The transplant was performed by Luis Mieles, M.D., associate professor of surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center and director of the pediatric liver transplant program at Strong Memorial Hospital, and by James Piper M.D., of Westchester County Medical Center, who has performed several living-related liver transplants. Oscar Bronsther, M.D., associate professor of surgery at the Medical Center and director of the transplant program, assisted the transplant team.

"This historic surgery is the result of a real commitment to transplantation by the hospital and Medical Center; by the physicians, nurses, coordinators, and others who make up the transplant team; and by the patients and families who give us their trust," says Dr. Bronsther.

Savannah remains hospitalized on a regular pediatric unit and is in satisfactory condition. Surgeons say that if Savannah continues to improve, she could be released from the hospital sometime this week.

Savannah’s father Rob, was released from the hospital six days after his surgery and continues to recover at home. Now, three weeks after his surgery, Rob’s liver has regenerated the lost lobe and it has grown back to its original size.

Strong Memorial Hospital’s liver transplant program has been in existence since 1994 and it is the only liver transplant program in Upstate New York. Since the program’s inception, Strong has performed 158 liver transplants.

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