News

Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital Reaches 200 Kidney Transplant Milestone

19 October 2011

Dylan Muller, 14, was the recipient of the 200th donor kidney to be transplanted at Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital.

"This is a remarkable achievement, as surgeons continue to make great strides in the ability to place adult-size kidneys into children," Dr Priya Gajjar, the senior Paediatric Nephrology Specialist at Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital.

"This is a remarkable achievement for the hospital, which is the provincial paediatric centre for paediatric kidney transplants. The amount of successful kidney transplants performed at the hospital is a testament to the calibre of the highly skilled specialists, surgeons and nurses who are employed at the hospital."

Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, said: "Western Cape Provincial Government is proud to have the specialised services offered by the kidney transplant unit in our portfolio of services. The quality of health services are measured against the quality of services to children, and this achievement is indeed a demonstration thereof. On behalf of the provincial cabinet, I want to congratulate and thank every individual who made this achievement possible."

The youngest child to undergo a kidney transplant at Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital was just under two years old and, 14 years later, he is living a normal life with good kidney function.

The first renal transplant was performed in 1968; since 1990, an average of eight kidney transplants have been performed a year. Despite this, many more patients are still waiting for donor kidneys, one of whom has been waiting four years, the longest to date.

Dylan waited two years until a donor kidney became available, which Dr Gajjar says is still quite a long time and is not ideal.

Dylan was a year old when he developed tuberculosis in his kidneys. He underwent years of treatment in Knysna, his home town, and at George Hospital, before he was transferred to Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital in 2005.

Dylan was treated at the hospital for four more years before his kidneys deteriorated to the point that he needed to be on dialysis. At this point, one of his kidneys had to be removed.

He was put on the transplant list in February 2009 and was able to go home on dialysis, which supplemented the remaining function of his one kidney.

Dr Gajjar said the success of his home treatment was thanks to the amazing dedication of his mother and the superb management of doctors at George Hospital who were able to keep him healthy for two years after he lost one of his kidneys.

But doctors were not able to save his hearing. Dylan's reduced kidney function makes him immunocompromised and the prolonged use of antibiotics caused him to lose most of his hearing and he now uses hearing aids.

For his mother, Irene Muller, it has been a hard journey too but she says it was Dylan's positive spirit that kept her going.

"Dylan is always very positive. With all the things going on with him, he never let it get him down," she said. "He's always smiling and everybody likes him. He's the one who gives me strength."

Two years later, on 30th August 2011, Dylan finally got the good news that he would be getting a new kidney.

"We are very grateful to the family who consented to donate their loved one's organs. Today Dylan is a picture of good health," Dr Gajjar said.

Out of eight transplants this year, Dylan's surgery was only the third cadaver renal transplant performed at Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, reflecting the marked shortage of organs.

"We currently have 16 other children awaiting kidneys," Dr Gajjar said, adding that without living-related donations from parents, aunts or uncles, many other children would not live long enough to receive cadaver organs.

More than 3 500 patients in South Africa are awaiting a life-saving organ in South Africa. We would encourage everyone to be an organ donor. One donor can potentially "save seven lives". So sign up today. It does not mean that you are ready to die; it means that you are ready to help others live.

Media Enquiries: 

Lauren O'Connor-May
Principal Communications Officer
Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital
Cell: 084 586 1413
Tel: 021 658 5448
E-mail: rxhpro@pgwc.gov.za