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Smallest Liver Transplant Recipient Dies After Historic Dual Operation

July 15, 1988

CHICAGO (AP) _ Doctors who divided a donated liver and transplanted it into two babies say the operation demonstrated the procedure is ″technically feasible″ even though one infant died.

Twelve-week-old Joseph Kovach of Geneva, Ill., who at 4.2 pounds was the smallest human ever to receive a transplant, died of heart failure Thursday at Wyler Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

The second infant, 7-month-old Jaclyn Manrose of Crystal Lake, was doing well three days after the operation, said Jill Goldmann, a hospital spokeswoman. The child was listed in critical and stable condition.

The children were participants Tuesday in the first double liver transplant in the United States, receiving the divided liver of a 1-year-old who died in an accident, the university said.

The boy’s heart had stopped briefly after the liver transplant and he later suffered kidney and lung failure, said a hospital spokesman, John Easton.

Doctors had regarded the operation as a longshot for the boy but his only hope of survival, said Dr. Peter F. Whitington. The boy previously had undergone open-heart surgery to correct a birth defect.

Joseph suffered from cirrhosis, a type of liver damage, that existed at birth from an unknown cause. Jacyln had a hereditary defect called alpha-1 --antitrypsin deficiency that can lead to hepatitis or cirrhosis.

Double liver transplants have been performed in Europe, involving adult donors, Easton said.

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