Toddler Recovers After So-Called 5-Organ Transplant

How many new organs did Adonis Ortiz, 3, really get?

ByABC News
December 18, 2013, 2:04 PM

Dec. 18, 2013— -- A Florida hospital announced Tuesday that a 3-year-old patient had survived a five-organ transplant, but it might not be five organs -- the number depends on how they're counted.

Adonis Ortiz underwent the multiple organ transplant surgery in October, and Jackson Memorial Hospital held a news conference this week to proclaim the operation a success.

"We're going through some ups and downs, but I never lost faith," the boy's mother, Aracelis Ortiz, said in a statement. "I'm happy and excited with his progress."

While the announcement of a five-organ transplant on someone so young garnered widespread media attention, the hospital counted the organs differently than the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, the national organization that manages the transplant waiting list. OPTN counts Adonis' surgery as a three-organ transplant, because OPTN doesn't count digestive organs separately.

Jackson Memorial announced that Adonis received five new organs -- "liver, pancreas, stomach and small and large intestines." But the OPTN considers a transplant that includes digestive organs from the esophagus to the large intestine as a single transplant, said Joel Newman, a spokesman for OPTN.

Newman said that OPTN doesn't have a problem with Jackson Memorial Hospital counting these organs differently but said that 40 other transplants similar to Adonis' had had been performed in the U.S. from January through September of this year.

"They're done most commonly for very young recipients, especially those between the age of 1 and 5," he said.

Adonis Ortiz was born with gastroschisis, a genetic condition that caused his intestines to form outside his abdominal wall, which had a hole in it. Underdeveloped intestines formed on the inside too. Although he had surgery to correct this, other problems persisted.

He was diagnosed with stage 2 liver fibrosis last August, and doctors realized he would need a multiple organ transplant, said Jackson Memorial.

According to the hospital, this was the first surgery of its kind to be done without an additional procedure, a colostomy, which would create an opening that would allow feces to leave the body during surgery.

"The one-step approach," said the hospital in a statement, "kept Adonis from having additional surgeries."