Devin McQueen, a Great Transplantation Success
April is National Donate Life Month. As part of “getting” the word out, the McQueen’s are telling the story of their son, Devin.
Devin was born October 2003 with almost no small intestine, but is now a healthy 5 year old boy who plays base ball. He was given this chance to a good life by someone who donated organs. Devin received a small intestine transplant in February of 2009 when doctors at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC performed a life-saving bowel transplant.
The small bowel is very important in absorbing nutrients from the food eaten. Intestinal failure can be caused by disease or by trauma that affects how the intestine absorbs nutrients or moves food through the intestinal tract. A common cause for children is short gut syndrome (as with Devin), a congenital disorder in which an infant's intestine is too short or underdeveloped to allow normal food digestion. Other causes are abdominal trauma, Crohn's disease, thrombotic disorders and surgical adhesions.
With too little small bowel, Devin had survived on TPN (intravenous feeding). The TPN over time can cause liver damage and put patients at risk of life-treating infections.
Small intestine transplantations are still rare. Only about 100 patients each year receive these transplants each year. Most are done on children less than 18 years old. Like all transplant surgery there are risks. One of the hurdles is organ rejection. Currently the three year survival rate for patients who have intestinal transplants is more than 70%.
Small bowel transplantation can be performed in one of three ways: alone, in combination with the liver, or multi-visceral (i.e., with one or more of the following: liver, pancreas, stomach, duodenum, intestine and colon).
Devin still has to be careful about infection. He has to take medication indefinitely to fight the risk of his body rejecting the organ he received. He no longer needs TPN for nutrition as he can now eat food like any other kid.
Georgetown University Hospital