In 2010, a five year-old German girl, Erika, underwent surgery at the Necker Hospital – the first European centre to perform paediatric intestinal transplantation. During this procedure, Erika was given 7 organs donated by another little girl.
Erika suffers from a very rare form of a congenital disease known as Hirschsprung’s disease. The little girl’s intestinal transit system virtually stopped. As a result, she could no longer eat normally and had to be given artificial nutrition which was administered intravenously (parenteral nutrition). However, following several complications (blocked veins, weak kidneys, etc.), the last chance for Erika was to replace all of the diseased organs: the kidneys, liver, stomach, small intestine, duodenum, pancreas and colon. The three doctors who performed this procedure were Christophe Chardot, Sabine Irtan and Yves Aigrain. Complicated treatment procedures involving several specialists in the fields of hepatology, gastro-enterology, nephrology, immunology and radiology, etc., were required following surgery.
Erika is now 8 and a half, and travels to Paris two or three times a year. As far as Erika’s mother is concerned, the success of this operation is not only due to medical advances but also "to the family of the little girl who donated her organs" because "they saved Erika".