Father calls for liver donor for 8-month-old daughter with rare disease

Mr Sandeep Singla with his wife, Ms Neha Wilson, and eight-month-old daughter Zarouhi, who is fighting for her life at the NUH paediatric intensive care unit.
Mr Sandeep Singla with his wife, Ms Neha Wilson, and eight-month-old daughter Zarouhi, who is fighting for her life at the NUH paediatric intensive care unit.PHOTOS: COURTESY OF MR SANDEEP SINGLA

SINGAPORE - A father is making a desperate call for a liver donor for his eight-month-old daughter, who is fighting for her life at the National University Hospital's (NUH) paediatric intensive care unit.

Zarouhi Singla was born with biliary atresia, a rare liver disease that can be deadly, her father, Mr Sandeep Singla, told The Straits Times on Wednesday (Aug 10).

Mr Sandeep, 34, had donated part of his liver to her in a transplant surgery on Aug 5, but the transplant failed due to a vascular problem, and she is currently on life support.

Professor K. Prabhakaran, director of the paediatric organ transplant programme at NUH, said baby Zarouhi is currently very ill and unlikely to survive without a re-transplantation.

Biliary atresia is a rare disorder of the liver and a progressive inflammatory destructive process of the bile ducts that affects one in every 15,000 infants, said Dr Prabhakaran. Its cause is not clear.

"Usually the baby will appear normal at birth, but develops symptoms such as jaundice after the age of two to three weeks", he said.

"At least 60 per cent of children with biliary atresia may develop liver failure that requires a liver transplant within the first two years of life."

Mr Sandeep, a general manager for Shell, and his wife, Ms Neha Wilson, are Indian nationals who have lived in Singapore for about 18 months.

Zarouhi, who was born in Singapore, has spent about five months in and out of hospital, said Mr Sandeep.

After the failed transplant attempt last Friday, Mr Sandeep is worried that his only daughter does not have long to live.

While Ms Wilson is being assessed to see if she is a suitable donor, the couple are looking for a standby donor in the event that she is not eligible, said Mr Sandeep.

"We wanted to reach out to public because time is not on our side."

Mr Sandeep said that he will cover the medical costs of the potential donor, who must be healthy and match Zarouhi's blood type of O positive.

Thanking supporters and NUH staff, he said: "Even though we are foreigners here, Singapore has made us feel at home. This is a great country with great people."

Those who meet the criteria and wish to act as potential donors can contact Mr Sandeep at sandeepsingla@hotmail.com.

Information on donor criteria can be found at https://www.nuh.com.sg/nucot/about-transplant/the-donor-assessment.html.