Liver transplant twins discover that they are identical aged 48

Liver transplant twins discover that they are identical aged 48

Twin sisters Annemarie Atha and Geraldine Rowing had been told by their mother that, because they had been born with two placentas, they were not identical. It was only when, at the age of 48, Mrs Rowing needed a liver transplant from her twin, that they discovered that they were, in fact, genetically identical. It meant that the pair could become the first identical twins in Britain to undergo a live liver transplant, with the “massive advantage” that Ms Rowing does not need to take a cocktail of drugs to stop her rejecting the new organ.

Ms Rowing’s liver was damaged by cancer, and her doctors eventually recommended she went on the transplant list. She mentioned to her doctor that she was a non-identical twin and he suggested doing tests. The test revealed that the sisters, who live in Rothwell, near Leeds, were genetically identical despite not looking exactly the same.

"Mum always said that because there were two placentas when we were born that we weren't identical," said Ms Atha.

"So we've grown up believing we're not identical because Geraldine's got a wider smile than me and she's got a squarer face than me. We've both got the silly same nose and I'm a teeny, teeny bit taller than Geraldine. So mum always said you're not identical.

"But they said you're identical enough to do the transplant."

The sisters went through the operation in April and Mrs Rowing said she is feeling much better. Mrs Rowing said not having to take immuno-suppressant drugs has had a range of benefits - some obvious and some not so obvious. She said it means she can eat her favourite soft boiled eggs and soldiers with her two young children.

Consultant liver surgeon Raj Prasad, who did the operation, said live liver transplants - where the donor is a living person who donates a section of their organ for the operation - are getting more common. He said St James's did their first one in 2007 and will do around 20 this year, around one-in-seven of all liver transplants.

Mr Prasad said the main problem was putting the donor, an otherwise healthy person, through a major and potentially life-threatening operation. But he said it meant the ill person did not have to wait for an organ to become available from a dead donor.

Mr Prasad said: "It's an absolutely massive advantage which is God or nature's gift. It's a dream."

By Press Association,

The Telegraph, Tuesday 11 November 2014

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