Yajaira García Gómez, 35 and originally from Guápiles, waiting for her fourth child. She is in week 21 of gestation. Surgeons who had surgery, the doctor who treats and obstetricians who monitor the fetus, say mom and baby are fine. | Ronald PÉREZ
Yajaira García Gómez, 35, pregnant with her fourth child, was operated on in week 21 of gestation.  Mom and baby are doing finde, doctors say. Photo: La Nacion,  Ronald Pérez

QCOSTARICA (iNews.co.cr) The latest success for Costa Rican medicine appears to be a successful liver transplant performed on a pregnant woman, Yajira Garcia, 35, originally of Guapiles, in order to save her life and, of course, that of her baby.

The operation, the first such in Central America, was performed at Calderon Guardia Hospital in San Jose.

Ms. Garcia was only in her 19th week of pregnancy.

It is reportedly only the 10th such operation in the world, because doctors normally do not like to operate on a pregnant woman for any reason. However, two weeks ago she experienced severe pains and impending liver failure.

Coordinating surgeon Dr. Mario Sanchez explained, ” It was an intervention of much urgency. We manage the seriousness of such cases on a scale of 1 to 40. She was in the 40 class. If we hadn’t intervened, she and her child would have been dead shortly.”

Usually, the physicians treat the liver illness until the child is born or or the mother’s health causes a spontaneous miscarriage. Although it was an emergency surgery, the case was handled like a normal liver transplant which normally takes 10 to 12 hours.

“We had to exercise 10 times more care with a pregnant patient. Bleeding had to be controlled much more rapidly and the anaesthesia as well. But we had the advantage in that the uterus and the liver are located some distance from one another and that allowed us to work better,” said Dr. Sancez.

A gynocologist was not present during surgery because that examination had been made before and the patient cleared for the operation. It was Ms.Garcia’s fourth pregnancy. Closely monitored, mother and baby remain hospitalized but appear to be in normal recuperation.

“I feel good. I never thought I could get through this, but it’s like being born again,” said the mother, “I can hear the baby but I don’t know if it’s a boy or girl because they haven’t let me see it.”Like most transplant patient, she receives immunity suppressants to keep her from rejecting the organ.

But these medicines are administered with extreme care so as not to affect the fetus. This was one of six organ transplants performed in this country in the last few days. According to Maria del Rocio Salenz, chief of the Caja, 700 patients are awaiting transplants, 45 of them of livers.