BALTIMORE, SEPT. 1 -- Jason Fetters, 11, of Silver Spring, the first child to undergo a liver transplant in the Washington-Baltimore area, died Sunday from cancer, the disease that led to his transplant operation six months ago.
Despite initial signs of a strong recovery and bright prospects after the surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital here last winter, doctors in July discovered several tumors on Jason's new liver. They removed part of the liver, but subsequent tests showed that the cancer was spreading, a Hopkins spokeswoman said today.
The disease resisted chemotherapy, she said, and no other course of treatment or surgery was available. Jason remained hospitalized from late July until his death.
A spunky child who had hoped to attend sixth grade at Fairland Elementary School in Silver Spring this fall, Jason underwent the delicate liver transplant operation March 2. Doctors at the time said that up to 75 percent of pediatric liver transplant patients live for at least one year, but the odds diminish after that.
Pediatric liver transplants are relatively uncommon, with only about 65 done in the nation each year. Jason's was the first in this area. A 4-year-old Arlington girl, Michelle Todd, died in March from complications after two liver transplants at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh.
The liver, a critical organ that helps cleanse toxic chemicals in the body, is often more difficult to transplant than other organs because of its greater tendency to be rejected by the recipient's body.
Jason is survived by his parents, Karen Fetters, an executive secretary for the Rouse Co., and Rick Fetters, a Dart Drug employe.