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How maple syrup urine disease led to transplants and saved lives – Washington Post

By Deborah Kotz,

March 30 at 6:21 PM

When two Maryland children got lifesaving liver transplants from deceased organ donors in January, the children’s diseased livers were not discarded, as such organs usually are. Instead, they were donated to two Virginia adults in an unusual domino series of transplants at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

Jeremy Dick, left, received the liver of 14-year-old Quadejah Harris, right, at the Medstar Georgetown Transplant Institute on Feb. 12 in Washington, DC. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Their gift opened a whole new avenue of treatment for adults who might have otherwise died waiting for a liver transplant.

Children generally are not allowed to be organ donors because they are considered too young to make an informed decision about the medical risks involved. In this case, their livers had to be removed anyway, and science had recently determined that the disease that caused their livers to malfunction would not appear upon transplantation. Size also wasn’t an issue because a transplanted liver grows to fit whatever body it’s placed in.

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