Biliary atresia is a life-threatening congenital birth defect causing a blockage in the tubes that carry a liquid called bile from the liver to the gallbladder. The bile ducts help remove waste from the liver and carry salts that help the small intestine digest fat. Biliary atresia occurs when the bile ducts inside or outside the liver do not develop properly, and can lead to liver damage and cirrhosis of the liver, which is deadly if not treated. The liver damage incurred from biliary atresia is caused by injury and loss of the bile ducts that are responsible for draining bile from the liver. The loss of bile ducts causes bile to remain in the liver where it can build up and cause scarring and loss of liver tissue. Eventually, the liver will not be able to work properly and life-threatening cirrhosis will occur. If your child was born with biliary atresia and you believe a medical mistake to be the cause, contact an experienced birth defect attorney to discuss your compensation options.
Newborns with biliary atresia may appear normal at birth, but jaundice (a yellow color to the skin and mucus membranes) will develop by the second or third week of life. The affected infant may gain weight normally for the first month, but will then lose weight and become irritable, accompanied by worsening jaundice. Other symptoms of biliary atresia may include:
Biliary atresia is a serious condition and treatment is only partially successful. In some cases of biliary atresia, an operation called the Kasai procedure can be conducted to connect the liver to the small intestine, by going around the abnormal ducts. This surgery is most successful if done before the baby is 8 weeks old, although a liver transplant may still be necessary. Early surgery will improve the expectation for more than a third of children with this birth defect. Unfortunately, some children may suffer from severe biliary atresia complications, including liver failure, infection, irreversible cirrhosis, and surgical complications like failure of the Kasai procedure.
Biliary atresia can lead to liver failure and the need for a liver transplant within the first one to two years of life. In fact, biliary atresia is the most common reason for liver transplantation in children in the United States and in many parts of the world. If you or a loved one has suffered from biliary atresia, which you believe to be the result of a medical error, contact an experienced birth defect attorney immediately. You may have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the allegedly negligent doctor, hospital or Ob/Gyn, in order to pursue financial compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Birth defects like biliary atresia can significantly impact the rest of a child’s life, especially those that require a liver transplant for survival. With the help of a qualified birth defect lawyer, you can collect the compensation you deserve and ensure that your child receives the medical care he requires now and in the future.