UHealth Surgeons Save Toddler’s Life with Florida’s First Eight-Organ Transplant

UHealth – University of Miami Health System surgeons saved 1-year-old Liam Garza’s life by performing the first eight-organ multivisceral transplant in Florida. This was just five years after they saved Liam’s sister, Delilah Valdez. Both of them were diagnosed with Megacystis microcolon intestinal hypoperistalsis syndrome (MMIHS), also known as Berdon syndrome and required multi-organ transplants.

Jennifer Garcia, M.D., UHealth pediatric gastroenterologist and associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the Miller School of Medicine, described MMIHS as a rare prenatal congenital disease involving a dilated bladder that causes massive abdominal distension, microcolon, and decreased or absent intestinal function. The condition is usually fatal within the first year of a child’s life without transplant.

During an ultrasound when she was six weeks pregnant, Julissa Cerda received Liam’s diagnosis. It was all too familiar. Her doctors in Texas noticed that her second child’s bladder was enlarged, and suspected he was developing the same congenital disease that had affected Delilah. Cerda recalled what her daughter had faced in 2011 when she was just 16 months old and received a seven-organ transplant from UHealth surgeons at Holtz Children’s Hospital, part of the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center.

Knowing what to expect, Cerda and her husband, Jose Garza, decided to return to Holtz Children’s Hospital and the UHealth transplant surgeons who had previously saved their daughter’s life.

In January, Liam was placed on the transplant list and brought from Texas by air ambulance to Holtz. On February 23, Liam underwent a successful nine-hour transplant surgery, receiving eight new organs: a liver, stomach, large and small bowel, pancreas, two kidneys and a bladder.

Rodrigo Vianna, M.D., UHealth liver and gastrointestinal transplant surgeon, said it was a complicated surgery because of scale and timing.

“This is an incredible case because you have a genetic disease that can be helped with a multi-organ transplant,” Vianna said. “It was complex because all of the organs had to be removed at the same time. At one point, Liam only had a heart and lungs.”

The surgery’s success was highlighted at a recent news conference that simultaneously recognized the kick-off of National Donate Life Month. Akin Tekin, M.D., UHealth adult and pediatric liver and gastrointestinal transplant surgeon, and assistant professor of surgery at the Miller School, summed up it up best: “For this kind of transplant, the unfortunate turns into a fortunate event.”

A link to additional photos is available here.

Thanks to a single donor, Liam’s life was saved. More information about organ donation is available here.

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