Doctors Implant Second Liver in Threatened Boy

UCLA Medical Center surgeons early Tuesday implanted a second liver into Alexander Tufel, the 16-month-old Seattle child who had only a few days to live unless a new liver was found for him.

"The operation went very well. We're optimistic that he will be OK," said Dr. Ronald Busuttil, director of UCLA's liver transplant program.

Alexander showed a marked improvement in color and vital signs within three hours of completion of the operation, Busuttil said. The youngster had a liver transplant at UCLA on May 5, but the organ stopped functioning after blood clotted in a vessel that serves it.

Alexander's parents, Dianne and Alben Tufel, were described as being "elated" and greatly relieved that a donor had been found.

According to Busuttil, the critical period for the child is the next 10 days. The five-year survival rate for liver transplants, he said, is 75% to 80%. The boy was born with a fatal liver defect.

Busuttil said he flew to Phoenix late Monday night to get the liver when word came that a donor had been found. After flying back to Los Angeles, the surgical team completed the transplant operation about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.

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