Chinese father donates part of small intestine to son

CHENGDU, May 15 (Xinhua) -- A 29-year-old man in China received a small intestine transplantation from his father, making him the 16th patient in the country to receive the surgery, a Chinese doctor said.

The patient, surnamed Zhou, lives in southwest China's Sichuan Province. He had suffered from small intestine failure before receiving the surgery on April 30, said surgeon Zhao Gaoping, deputy director of gastrointestinal surgery at Sichuan Provincial People's Hospital.

He received 1.7 meters of small intestine transplanted from his father. "The surgery went well. The patient is recovering. He is on a liquid diet now," Zhao said.

The patient had two small bowel resections before the transplantation and was suffering from short bowel syndrome, a condition that requires surgery, Zhao said.

"The length of an ordinary small intestine is four to seven meters, but Zhou only had fewer than two meters of the organ left," he said.

Though both the patient's father and older brother qualified as donors, the father insisted that he provide the part to his son.

China's first living-donor small intestine transplantation between family members succeeded in 1999. Sixteen such surgeries have been performed ever since. One of the patients has lived nearly 20 years with the transplant and is among the world's most long-lived bowel transplant recipient.

Worldwide, some 3,000 small bowel transplantations, a necessary treatment for irreversible intestinal failure, have been carried out in the past 20 years. The overall 5-year survival rate for small bowel transplants is close to 60 percent.

"Transplantation is the first step. The patient needs to deal with rejection and infection in the following treatment," Zhao said.