Oncologist Dr. Belinda Yeoh and a patient

Departments

Austin Health’s Liver Transplant Unit performs Australia’s first live donor father daughter liver transplant

19 June 2019

Surgeons from the Victorian Liver Transplant Unit have saved the life of one-year-old girl, Mila Pinceus, successfully performing Victoria's first living-donor liver transplant between a father and child.

The Tasmanian toddler had been in perfect health, before going into acute liver failure around Easter.

She failed to respond to treatment and was transferred to Melbourne, where it became apparent that her survival depended on a transplant.

"It's difficult to predict how long Mila had, but we were very concerned that she had days to live," surgeon Graham Starkey, from Austin Health's Liver Transplant Unit, told ABC News.

While Mila was prioritised on the waiting list for a liver from a deceased organ donor, Mila's parents - Cameron Pinceus and Nicky Browning - were both tested for compatibility as "living" liver donors.

Luckily, dad was a match, and two operations - in two operating theatres 15km apart - were scheduled for May 9.

After one team of surgeons removed approximately one-fifth of dad Cameron's liver at Austin Health, it was transplanted into Mila at the Royal Children's Hospital.

Cameron, who now has the family nickname ‘Spare Parts', said he didn't hesitate to donate.

"When they said that I was a match, I thought, at least I can do something now," he said. "You always want to do something for your own child."

The cause of Mila's liver failure remains unknown. Mila and her father have both recovered well.

Mila's liver transplant was the first from a living donor in Australia since 2017.

Austin Health's Victorian Liver Transplant Unit provides liver transplant services for all of Victoria, Tasmania and parts of Southern New South Wales, and is the sole provider of intestinal transplant services in Australia. We also provide the surgical team and physicians for all liver and intestinal transplants performed at the Royal Children's Hospital.

While this is a fantastic surgical outcome, surgeorn Graham Starkey says that he would prefer that no parent had to go through Cameron and Nicky's experience.

"Australians, we like to think of ourselves as a generous community, and this is the ultimate act of generosity," he told ABC News.

"I think Australia should aim to have an organ donation rate as good as anywhere in the world. At the moment we are not quite up there with part of western Europe, so we can do better."

To register for organ donation, visit donatelife.gov.au