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Last Updated: Friday, 19 March, 2004, 10:36 GMT
Eight organ transplant for baby
Alessia Di Matteo and mother
Alessia would have died without surgery
US surgeons have successfully performed a record eight organ transplant on a six-month old girl.

In a 12-hour operation, Italian Alessia Di Matteo received a new liver, stomach, pancreas, small and large intestine, spleen and two kidneys.

Alessia suffered from 'smooth muscle' condition, a fatal disorder of the digestive system.

Professor Andreas Tzakis at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami performed the operation.

Dr Tzakis said: "To my knowledge this is the first attempt at eight organs."

Dr Tzakis performed the last record transplant operation, of seven organs, in 1997.

'Doing well'

He said at least one previous transplant patient has lived ten years and others are doing well.

Transplant surgery
The operation lasted 12 hours
"When these children survive the surgery and do well, they can do perfectly well."

Alessia's condition was diagnosed through a scan while she was still in the womb.

It would have been fatal if untreated.

Dr Tzakis said the first year would be critical to Alessia's survival, but is so far doing well.

"The child is quite well," he said.

"She is in her mother's arms and she is being fed through the new intestines."

Her new organs came from a one year old baby.

Alessia is currently still under observation but should be able to return to Italy in another three months.

The operation was conducted on January 31, after Alessia was transferred from Gaslini Hospital in Genoa, Italy.

A spokesperson for the hospital told the Daily Mirror: "We knew the only way to save Alessia was a multi-organ transplant by Professor Tzakis."

Mr Steve Wigmore, transplant surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh told BBC News Online: "People who undergo cluster transplants don't have a particularly good outcome.

"There have been some amazing successes, but you have to be guarded about how long that person will survive."

He said multiple organ transplants have only been attempted in the last ten to 15 years.

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