Pioneering surgery uses patch from cow’s heart to rebuilt British woman’s liver

London, Dec 30: A woman from Liverpool, who was suffering from an incurable liver cancer, was saved by using a tissue from a cow’s heart to rebuild her liver.

Michelle Morgan-Grainger from Liverpool became one of the first to benefit from pioneering surgery that used the process known as xenotransplantation – animal organ donation, to save her life, the Daily Mail reported.

The 40-year-old woman, who was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer in October 2010, underwent a procedure to remove the tumour in her liver along with a large portion of her Inferior Vena Cava (IVC).

This vital blood vessel, which is located close to the back of the liver and returns blood from the lower half of the body back to the heart, was reconstructed with a patch made from the outer lining of a cow’s heart, a material called bovine pericardium.

According to Hassan Malik, who is a consultant hepatobiliary surgeon at Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, this procedure was very long and complex, with only five centres in Europe with experience in such cases.

Malik also said that the bovine patch had been used in heart surgery for a while but employed in only six liver surgery cases, four of which he has performed.

The surgeon also said that Grainger’s case was different from the other 150 patients, because of the use of bovine material, as well as the fact that most of the IVC was removed.

He also added that the pre-treated bovine material used, reduces the risk of infection and also of blood clots, usually formed after surgery.

During the ten-hour operation, this material was used as it has a similar thickness, it’s flexible and easy to cut to shape and suture in place, as compared to synthetic material, which becomes infected, and needs replacing.

On the other hand, the patient left the hospital eleven days after the surgery, and less than 18 months on, she is cancer-free. (ANI)