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Oz organ recipient changes blood group

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An Australian teenager has been dubbed a "one-in-six-billion miracle" after her blood group changed following a liver transplant, Reuters reports.

Demi-Lee Brennan, now 15, suffered liver failure at nine and received a donated replacement. She subsequently became ill while on anti-rejection drugs, but her blood group inexplicably switched from O negative to O postive, while her new organ's blood stem cells "invaded" her bone marrow and took control of her entire immune system.

Doctors quickly took her off the anti-rejection drugs, "realising her blood type - and immune system - had taken on the characteristics of her organ donor", as Oz's Daily Telegraph puts it.

Mystified doctors from Sydney's Westmead Childrens' Hospital admitted they had "no explanation" for the teen's recovery. Pediatric hepatologist Michael Stormon said: "There was no precedent for this having happened at any other time, so we were sort of flying by the seat of our pants."

The hospital's former transplant unit head, Stuart Dorney, said Brennan's treatment could prove significant for organ transplant treatment, because "normally the immune system of recipients attacked the transplanted tissue".

He concluded: "We now need to go back over everything that happened to Demi-Lee and see why, and if it can be replicated. We think because we used a young person's liver and Demi-Lee had low white blood cells, that could have been a reason."

Ms Brennan, meanwhile, is understandably delighted with her one-in-six-billion transformation, which is reported in the latest issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. She told local media: "It's like my second chance at life. It's kind of hard to believe." ®

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