Four year old Mason Lewis from Warwickshire has become the smallest person to undergo a lung transplant in the UK.
At just three foot (93 centimetres) tall, Mason was recipient of lungs measuring 11cm in height and weighing 140g each.
Mason is also the youngest person with pulmonary hypertension (PH) in UK to successfully undergo a lung transplant. PH is a rare blood vessel disorder of the lung.
The transplant was carried out by Professor Martin Elliott, professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and required delicate surgical techniques because the lungs were so small.
Great Ormond Street Hospital is the largest centre for paediatric cardiothoracic transplantation in the UK, and one of the largest in Europe.
Dr Helen Spencer, consultant in transplant respiratory medicine and cystic fibrosis is Mason’s consultant.
Dr Spencer said: “This is the first time in the UK we have seen a child this small successfully transplanted with lungs this small.
“It is a good advance in transplantation, and something which previously had only been carried out in a small number of centres in the U.S.
“At Great Ormond Street Hospital, candidates considered for lung transplant would normally be over the age of three and more than 100 cm in height. We hope the fact we have been able to do this in someone as small as Mason will offer hope for patients like him in the future.
“Mason has done well post operatively and we are really pleased to see his family in a position to return home. He has been incredibly lucky, not only to have a transplant but to receive one so quickly. Lots of children have to wait years for an organ to become available, some of whom will very sadly die while they are doing so.”
Dr Jane Collins, chief executive, Great Ormond Street Hospital said: “Our cardiothoracic transplant team is one of the largest in Europe. This is an exciting development in the field of lung transplantation which we hope will benefit many more of our patients in the future.”
Mason was two weeks overdue, and weighed 7lb 10oz at birth. Soon afterwards his mum, Rebecca, noticed he was ‘snuffly’ and despite feeding all the time struggled to absorb food and became pale and sweaty after eating.
At eight months a GP referred Mason to a consultant paediatrician at his local hospital. He underwent a number of tests, including an ECHO (an ultrasound of the heart) which showed his heart was damaged on the left hand side and the right hand side being squashed against his lungs.
Mason was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital, where he remained on cardiac intensive care for a month while doctors started treating his PH with epoprostenol (epo therapy), which helps to dilate the blood vessels in the lungs and improve the amount of blood being pumped around the body.
For the next few years Mason continued on epo therapy at home, and was able to go to nursery school. He attended frequent outpatient appointments and when he was two Mason underwent his first assessment for transplant. After four further assessments he was placed on the transplant waiting list in January this year.
“By the time Mason was listed for transplant he was being treated with the highest possible levels of medication for his PH, which involved wearing a pack on his back so he could be administered with drugs 24 hours a day.
“The option of transplant had been mentioned frequently since his condition was diagnosed.
“When Mason was put on the organ waiting list he was actually doing really well and was as healthy as he’d ever been, so we as a family felt ready for it.
“Mason’s older sister Indianna had lots of questions for me, like when would Mason’s transplant take place? How would he be given new lungs? Could he die? They were difficult to answer but we were as honest with her as we could be.
“The call to say a set of lungs had become available came at 6:15am. We were calm and took Indianna to stay at my mother in laws before travelling down to GOSH by ambulance.
“At 3pm Mason went in for surgery. After the transplant had taken place he experienced some bleeding but we were told by his surgeon, Professor Elliott that it had gone well.
Mason spent two weeks on the intensive care ward before being moved to a high dependency ward. An ECHO subsequently showed his heart looking much less swollen, which was a huge relief.
“Mason will have to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of his life, but he is able to take these orally and they are nothing like the continuous treatment he was on before.
“We are indebted to the clinical team, especially Dr Spencer and Professor Elliott, who have given our son a wonderful opportunity to lead a good quality of life. They are fantastic and we will never be able to thank them enough.
“We are also eternally grateful to the donor family. We cannot imagine what they went through. They lost a child and have displayed courage and selflessness. We would like to urge people to think about becoming donors, and to consider what they would do if tragedy hit their children as uncomfortable and difficult as we know that is.
“In the future it will be the simple things we will be most pleased to do, like going swimming as a family. We’re also looking forward to taking Mason to Alton Towers with his sister and to seeing him make friends when he starts school. We are incredibly proud of him.”
To join the NHS Organ Donor Register, call the Organ Donor Register line on 0300 123 23 23, or log onto the website: www.organdonation.nhs.uk, or text the word 'SAVE' to 84118.
For further information please contact Hayley Dodman, Great Ormond Street Hospital press office on 0207 239 3126 or email email@example.com