Girl, 7, gets kidney from dad for life-saving transplant surgery


By Lazeena Yearwood

Angelica Soamnauth, a seven-year-old from Stewartville, West Coast Demerara, lived an unconventional life due to a rare disease that prevented her from participating in regular childhood activities.

Now, her life has changed for the better after her father donated one of his kidneys so that she can undergo a life-saving transplant surgery.

Angelica is the miracle child for her parents, Haimdat and Angelique Soamnauth, who spent years trying to conceive. When she was a baby, the family took her to a pediatrician who noticed her liver was swollen.

At six months old, she was diagnosed with autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease and as her condition worsened, the family learnt in 2022, that she was in end stage renal failure.

The family was able to meet with President Dr Irfaan Ali at an outreach near their home and as a result, they received assistance in getting treatment at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation for a first-ever kidney transplant done on a seven-year-old child weighing 17 kilogrammes.

Every kidney transplant ever performed in the world was done on children who weigh 20 kilogrammes and above. Before Angelica, the youngest child in Guyana to undergo the surgery was 13 years old.

This is according to Dr Kishore Persaud, the Vacsular and Transplant Surgeon, who told a press conference on Friday that this was a groundbreaking surgery for Guyana.

“Today makes a historic achievement in the medical landscape of Guyana, together we have achieved what many deemed impossible, the first pediatric transplant at this age and size in our country.

“In a nation with limited resources and specialties, some doubt our capability, yet we are here making a mark, not just nationally, but I wish to inform you that she is possibly among the smallest in the Caribbean to undergo such a successful kidney transplantation,” Dr Persaud said.


Angelica Soamnauth and her family, joined by Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony and doctors attached at the Georgetown Public Hospital (Photo: News Room/ November 24, 203)

The all-Guyanese team that treated Angelica for pre and post operation care received support from the University of Calgary and a Guyanese nephrologist living in Canada. But Dr Persaud reminded that Angelica’s courage and determination to get well were the key players in the resounding success of the surgery.

In June 2022, planning for the surgery commenced and this entailed many tests and 10 months of dialysis treatment. Her age, size and the capabilities for transplant match testing were major concerns before the procedure but the doctors took up the challenge.

Haimdat’s tests were sent to Miami and upon return, it revealed that he was a perfect match. Angelica underwent a left-side kidney transplant on October 30, 2023.

“Going into the surgery you know the complications and in the back of my mind, I knew it could happen, but the objective was to be here where we are today.

“We tried to focus on the positives, which is getting her healthy. A transplant is a transplant but for her, it’s a new normal life because she has not been in school, we tried to do home-schooling but we are trying to give her a normal life, that’s the objective,” the father said.

A kidney transplant has several complications, including the possibility of the body rejecting the foreign organ. There is also delayed graft function, meaning without dialysis, the kidney would not function.

Signs of Angelica’s procedure being a success were immediate and this led to faster recovery from the operation. She is capable of moderate walking, running and any other activities. Her life is expected to improve.

“We have moved from doing the adult transplants to now branching off to pediatric transplant which is a little bit more complicated and there are some special procedures that are required and I think the team having done this particular transplant have demonstrated their capabilities,” Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony said on Friday.

Haimdat said before the interventions of the government, he considered taking his daughter abroad for treatment. But the family might have spent years waiting on a transplant list. He is happy for the support received from the hospital, the government and his family.

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