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Liver and Intestinal Transplant Program transplants 100th patient

11-month-old Jackson Thomas is the 100th patient to receive a liver transplant at Children's Mercy. Thomas, from Overland Park, Kan., was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a liver tumor, at seven-months-old. 

"About a month after his six month check up, I took him back to the doctor because his abdomen looked distended. He had a sonogram performed and that is when we discovered that Jackson had a cancerous tumor on his liver," said Terry Thomas, Jackson's mom.

Thomas was referred to the Children's Mercy Liver Tumor Program, a program that provides specialized treatment for pediatric hepatoblastoma, the most common malignant liver tumor in the United States; about 100 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with hepatoblastoma each year. The Children's Mercy Liver Tumor Program combines the medical and surgical expertise of the Children's Mercy Divisions of Hematology and Oncology with the Liver Care Center. 

"Our program provides specialized services and research for treating pediatric patients with malignant liver tumors," said Michelle A. Manalang, MD, Director, Children's Mercy Liver Tumor Program. "Our pediatric subspecialty team includes oncologists, hepatologists and transplant surgeons, as well as support services offered through nursing, social work and nutrition. Our multidisciplinary staff collaborates to create the best care plans for our patients and provides ongoing support well after treatment is complete." 

"We met with the Children's Mercy Liver Tumor team and the group came up with a plan for Jackson that included chemotherapy and a liver transplant," Terry Thomas said.

Thomas underwent three rounds of chemotherapy to prepare his body for the liver transplant. He had his liver transplant on May 14, performed by Children's Mercy Transplant Surgeons Walter S. Andrews, MD, Section Chief, Transplantation, and Richard J. Hendrickson, MD, Surgical Director, Intestinal Transplantation. 

"Jackson had a complication that infrequently occurs following a liver transplant in that there was difficulty restoring blood flow to the new liver. He had a successful second liver transplant on May 23. Jackson is definitely a fighter and he went home 10 days later," said James F. Daniel, MD, Director, Liver Care Center and Thomas' hepatologist.

"Jackson is doing great," said Terry Thomas. "He will do three more rounds of chemotherapy in June and our hope is that he will be cancer free."

"Children's Mercy outcomes for liver cancer in children are above national average," said Dr. Daniel. "The five-year survival rate at Children's Mercy is 87 percent, five percent higher than the national average which is a testament to the care our multidisciplinary team provides."

The Children's Mercy Liver Tumor Program follows more than 12 children with hepatoblastoma.

The Children's Mercy Liver and Intestinal Transplant Program
The Liver and Intestinal Transplant Program at Children's Mercy provides a comprehensive approach to treating children with end-stage liver disease, liver and/or intestinal failure. The Liver Transplant Program is a key component of the comprehensive Liver Care Center which provides the full spectrum of medical and surgical care for children with liver disease.

The multidisciplinary team works with referring physicians to ensure effective continuity of care for pediatric recipients and their families. For children diagnosed with liver tumors, such as Hepatoblastoma, the Liver Transplant team works closely with the oncology team to optimize timing of transplant. Long-term follow up is provided through a joint transplant/oncology clinic in order to minimize the number of appointments for the patient.

Children's Mercy preformed its first liver transplant in 1995. Children's Mercy Transplant Surgeons perform, on average, six liver transplants a year, however in 2013, that number was double.

About Children's Mercy
Children's Mercy, located in Kansas City, Mo., is one of the nation's top pediatric medical centers. The 354-bed, not-for-profit hospital provides care for children from birth through the age of 21, and has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of "America's Best Children's Hospitals." For the third time in a row, Children's Mercy has achieved Magnet nursing designation, awarded to fewer than seven percent of all hospitals nationally, for excellence in quality care. Its faculty of 600 pediatricians and researchers across more than 40 subspecialties are actively involved in clinical care, pediatric research, and educating the next generation of pediatric subspecialists.