Toddler Gets 8 Donated Organs in Marathon Transplant Surgery

Boy has rare genetic disease that also affected his sister.

ByABC News
April 4, 2016, 1:20 PM

— -- A Texas boy is expected to go home Tuesday, just weeks after undergoing a rare procedure in which he received eight donated organs.

Liam Cerda, 1, underwent a nine-hour surgery in February where he received eight organs, including a liver, stomach, large and small bowels, pancreas, two kidneys and bladder.

The surgery, announced by the Holtz Children’s Hospital in Miami, Florida, on Friday was needed due to a rare genetic condition called Megacystis Microcolon Intestinal Hypoperistalsis Syndrome (MMIHS), or Berdon Syndrome, which is characterized by malformed colon and bladder that causes digestive problems, according to the National Institutes of Health. The syndrome meant Liam was immediately put on intravenous nutrition and never got to eat real food until after the surgery.

Now, just weeks after the surgery, his mother, Julissa Cerda, of Rio Grande, Texas, said the toddler is doing well and eating real food for the first time. She said he is expected to be released from the hospital on Tuesday.

"Liam is doing very, very good. After his transplant, he hasn’t had any issues about feeding," Cerda told ABC News today. "It’s the first time he’s eaten through the mouth. He’s eating baby food right now."

Carrots are now the boy's favorite food, according to his mother.

Immediately after the surgery, Cerda said she could tell her son felt better. Before the transplant, she said the toddler often slept or was irritable.

"About a week after transplant, he was taken off sedation he was ready to get up and play," she said. "He was sitting up and getting on his walker. ... He's a very playful, happy baby."

Although the condition is extremely rare, according to the NIH, Liam is the second member of the Cerda family to be diagnosed with the condition. His sister Delilah, 6, was also diagnosed as an infant. She underwent a similar surgery at age 1, where she received seven transplanted organs.

Caring for a child with the rare and dangerous genetic condition was not any easier a second time, Cerda said. She explained Liam's condition was generally worse than his sisters and he even suffered from internal bleeding before the surgery.

"Liam was very different," she explained. "Liam’s diagnosis did advance more quickly than Delilah's."

Cerda said her daughter has become a big help in caring for Liam. Since Delilah has been dealing with hospitals and doctors since she was born, Cerda said the girl is "overprotective" of her little brother.

"She's only 6 years old and you would be very surprised how well she takes care of him," Cerda said. "She’s very cautious and washes her hands and wears a mask."