outbrain
Close  

‘World-first’ surgery gives Australian boy new hope

/ 01:55 PM November 01, 2012

AUSTRALIA, Melbourne : In this undated handout photo received on November 1, 2012 from Monash Heart Institute, Director of Monash Heart Ian Meredith (L) interacts with 10 year-old Matthew Gaythorpe (R) as Australian doctors hailed what they described as a world-first surgical treatment for the boy suffering from a rare disease that sends his blood pressure soaring and triggered a stroke, in Melbourne. Gaythorpe was facing the prospect of daily dialysis, a dual kidney-liver transplant and even another stroke until his doctor was granted special permission to try a highly experimental operation with a custom-made device. AFP PHOTO/MONASH HEART INSTITUTE

SYDNEY — Australian doctors Thursday hailed what they described as a world-first surgical treatment for a boy suffering from a rare disease that sends his blood pressure soaring and triggered a stroke.

Matthew Gaythorpe, 10, has suffered severe hypertension his entire life due to a combination of kidney and liver conditions called autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease and congenital hepatic fibrosis.

ADVERTISEMENT

He had a minor stroke last year and has lived with seizures and extreme fatigue requiring him to take about 30 medications a day. He was also diagnosed, at age four, with the chronic sleep disorder narcolepsy.

Matthew was facing the prospect of daily dialysis, a dual kidney-liver transplant and even another stroke until his doctor was granted special permission to try a highly experimental operation with a custom-made device.

FEATURED STORIES

“Using innovative radio frequency technology, we were able to effectively zap some of the nerves and tissue surrounding Matthew’s renal arteries,” said surgeon Ian Meredith from the Monash Heart institute.

“This has resulted in a noticeable reduction in Matthew’s symptoms and blood pressure.”

Meredith’s plea to be allowed to try the renal denervation procedure — never before performed on a child and still experimental with adults — went before three separate ethics panels before it was approved.

“We didn’t know whether it was going to work in a child, whether it was appropriate to do in a child and whether it should be done in a person with such a complex set of illnesses,” the surgeon said.

“But on balance we collectively as a team came together and felt on compassionate grounds it would be a good thing to do.”

The instrument used, a small balloon with electrodes on its surface, had to be specially designed for keyhole insertion into Matthew’s tiny arteries by an American firm.

Meredith said the “ingenious” device worked by targeting faulty nerves to the kidneys, which are critical in blood pressure control.

ADVERTISEMENT

Five weeks on Matthew’s mother, Alex Gaythorpe, said the results had been incredible, with a noticeable improvement in her son’s behaviour which she described as more calm and focused, as well as a significant drop in his blood pressure.

“He has begun reading novels again,” she said.

“It may seem trivial but (it’s) something he hasn’t been able to do for a while. He is also focusing more at school.”

Gaythorpe said her son “was often referred to as a puzzle with pieces that didn’t quite fit” but the surgery had given him a new lease on life, also putting off the prospect of transplants and dialysis.

“Avoiding that for as long as possible is a bonus. We now have hope,” she said.

Matthew is also looking forward to enjoying some of his favourite things, which include cricket and Australian Rules football (AFL), dreaming of the future.

“I want to be an AFL player, yeah, or play basketball,” the schoolboy told ABC television. “If not, be a shark scientist.”

Read Next
EDITORS' PICK
MOST READ
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Australia, Health, Kidney, medicine
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2020 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.