A King’s surgeon has been reunited with a young woman he operated on 20 years ago when she was just five days old.
Baebhen Schutkke was born in Dublin with a rare genetic condition called haemochromatosis, which causes dangerous levels of iron to build up in the body damaging the liver and other organs.
Following her birth, a donor organ was found for Baebhen and she was transferred to King’s where Professor Rela was waiting to carry out the transplant. He said, “This is an operation I will never forget. If we hadn’t have operated she would have died. I didn’t have time to think about the risks. And it never occurred to me that she would be the youngest in the world until someone suggested that possibility a few weeks later.”
Baebhen, a law student, said, “It has been so amazing to come back to where my life was saved all those years ago. It wouldn’t have been possible without the parents of a tragic boy donating his liver and the skills of Prof Rela and his team.”
Professor Rela added, “She is fine, fit and healthy and an amazing advert for the longevity of transplants. Patients worry their liver will wear out after five or ten years. If you avoid the problems of rejection the future is good.”
While at King’s, Baebhen met children on the ward who had recently had a transplant to give them hope for the future. She was also reunited with some of the doctors and nurses who cared for her 20 years ago.
Baebhen added, “I always think about how lucky I have been to have been brought to King’s and to have that remarkable operation. Coming back to the ward where I stayed after the transplant has been amazing.”