Taipei, Sept. 14 (CNA) Taipei Veterans General Hospital has saved the life of a child of a Vietnamese TV news anchor through a liver transplant using part of the liver of the child's mother, the hospital said Monday.
Vietnam Television (VTV) English news presenter Le Van Dai Trang, 29, donated 20 percent of her liver's left lobe to her 9-month-old daughter who was suffering from liver failure due to biliary atresia, Liu Chin-su, director of the hospital's transplant surgery department, said at a press conference.
Biliary atresia is a condition where blocked bile ducts damage the liver, leading to loss of liver function and cirrhosis.
During the operation, it took surgeons around five hours to extract the liver from Le and another eight hours to implant it in her daughter Dang Lam Diep, the hospital said in a statement.
On the day of the operation, all medical staff had to wear proper protective gear against COVID-19 as it was only the sixth day after Le and her daughter had arrived in Taiwan, Liu said.
The mother and child could not complete Taiwan's mandatory 14-day quarantine because Dang's condition started deteriorating and an emergency operation had to be performed, Liu said.
"They arrived in Taiwan on Monday, and the child's condition started getting worse on Wednesday. I thought that if the operation did not take place soon, her life would be at stake," Liu said of the transplant surgery, which was done on July 26, a Sunday.
Because the quarantine period was not completed, the operation was performed in an operating room with its own air conditioning system, Liu said.
Le was discharged from the hospital on Aug. 11, while Dang was discharged on Sept. 4, Liu said.
"The child was discharged about 10 days ago, but I didn't hold a press conference at the time," Liu said, explaining that he wanted to make sure that the young child's condition was stable before discussing the case publicly.
Le said she found out through surgeons and hepatologists in Vietnam that Taiwan was a suitable place for the operation, in part because its successful handling of COVID-19 meant it was a safe environment in which to get care.
Taiwan had not been the first place that came to mind because its strength in the medical field is not widely known among ordinary Vietnamese citizens, said Le, who has worked at VTV for seven years, including six as a news anchor.
"I have to say that when we consider treatment abroad, not so many Vietnamese people think about Taiwan as an ideal destination. Only medical staff and other insiders seemed to know about Taiwan being a country with excellent medical care," Le said.
In response to a question from CNA on the costs of the medical procedure, Le declined to give a figure but said that her family could only afford about 60-70 percent of the expenses.
"The living standard in Vietnam is quite different and I have to say that it is much lower than here," Le said. "It was a tough task (raising the money) so we received help from our friends and donations from anonymous donors."
Le told CNA that she and her daughter Dang plan to return to Vietnam in late September or early October.