|Laura Seitz, Deseret News|
SALT LAKE CITY, March 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- On January 30 to 31, 2012, surgeons at Intermountain Primary Children's Medical Center performed the hospital's first heart/liver transplant on a 13-year-old boy from Tuba City, Arizona. Surgeons performed the 19.5 hour procedure transplanting both organs from the same donor with successful results. The patient, Ethan Skacy, was the 15th pediatric patient in the United States to receive this dual transplant since 1997. He is expected to be released from the hospital early next week.
Ethan was diagnosed with familial hypercholesterolemia at age 10. Familial hypercholesterolemia causes the liver to be unable to process cholesterol, which then clogs the arteries of the heart. Ethan's condition is a genetic disorder and is the result of two abnormal genes, one being passed from each parent. Many people (1 in 500) carry one of these abnormal genes, which causes high cholesterol but not severe enough to cause a heart attack in childhood. Only one in one million people like Ethan receive the gene from both parents. These rare individuals suffer from severe hypercholesterolemia in childhood such that their coronary arteries become blocked and cause heart failure or death early in life if untreated. When Ethan received his transplant, his cholesterol level was over 700—a normal cholesterol level is < 200.