Liver Transplant Saves Newborn Baby After Mom Wouldn’t Consider Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 21, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Liver Transplant Saves Newborn Baby After Mom Wouldn’t Consider Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 21, 2006

St. Louis, MO ( — Jacob Gibbs has survived despite receiving a rare metabolic disorder of the liver from his mother, Keeley. Although doctors warned her that getting pregnant would be risky, Keeley had no thoughts about abortion once she found out she was carrying Jacob and that he had inherited the disorder from her.

Like other women in her family, Keeley carries the gene for the disorder OTC-deficiency and doctors told her in January that both she and her unborn son could have died.

Gibbs refused to have an abortion and both she and Jacob survived the pregnancy and birth.

After he was born, Jacob apparently became the youngest person ever to have a liver transplant — at just 10 days old. Doctors at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, where the surgery occurred, say he is possibly the only newborn that young to have had the transplant.

Now, three months after the surgery, both baby and mother are doing well.

"Everything happens for a reason," Brian Gibbs, Jacob’s father, told the Associated Press. "Ain’t that right," he added, holding his son up in the air and looking into his eyes.

Ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC) deficiency is the most common of the urea cycle disorders. A urea cycle disorder is a genetic disorder caused by a deficiency of one of the enzymes in the urea cycle. The urea cycle involves a series of biochemical steps that takes place in the liver, in which nitrogen, a component of protein, is removed from the blood and converted into urea.

When one of these enzymes is missing, nitrogen accumulates and is converted into ammonia, a highly toxic substance, instead of urea. Ammonia reaches the brain through the blood, where it may cause irreversible brain damage and/or death.

According to AP, when doctors diagnosed Jacob as having the disorder, the hospital made preparations for his birth and 24-hour monitoring at Children’s intensive care unit. Jacob had to have the liver transplant to survive.

Jacob was put on the liver transplant waiting list at 7 days old and the transplant liver became available three days later.

However, the donated liver came from an older child and was too large for Jacob’s body. Doctors reduced the size of it, but still had to leave the incision open until Jacob’s body was big enough to encompass the liver.