Five Things You Should Know About Liver Transplant

The liver is one of the most vital organs that has a number of chief functions to carry out. It aids in filtering and disposing of toxic materials from your blood, while fueling the body with the kind of energy it requires to work. It is also helpful in warding off infections and viruses, regulating sex hormones, producing blood-clotting factors, and controlling cholesterol levels and mineral and vitamin supplies. 

In the case of liver failure or liver cirrhosis, each of the vital functions get affected. At the critical stage of liver damage, a liver transplant under the best liver transplant surgeon in India is the only successful way of treatment to improve the prospects of survival. 

1. The basic facts about liver transplant

Liver diseases happen to be the most common cause of death right after cancer, chest infections, stroke, and heart disease. A transplant involves replacing the diseased liver of the patient by a new liver that is derived from either a heart beating or brain-dead donor, i.e., a cadaver (Decreased or Cadaveric – DDLT or Donor Liver Transplant) or from any living donor (LDLT or Living Donor Liver Transplant).

Liver taken from living donors is only half of the actual organ, whereas the one from a cadaver is a full liver. Now, the liver happens to be a unique part of the body that comes with the added capability to regenerate. The capacity of regeneration has ensured that even seventy percent of the liver can be removed safely minus any untoward consequence due to the regenerative capacity.

2. Details about a legal liver donor

The rest of the liver starts growing rapidly and restores the complete functional capacity needed for the normal bodily functions. Due to this particular property, a part of a voluntary donor’s healthy liver can be removed safely and used to replace the diseased liver in patients without any harm to the patient or the donor. The rest of the liver left in the recipient and donor starts growing back to attain complete functional recovery in a matter of three to four weeks. 

The best liver transplant surgeon in India opines that anyone above eighteen years of age is legally allowed to donate a part of their liver. However, as per the Human Organ Act of 1996 in India, liver donation is strictly restricted to the close relatives or family members (father, mother, sister, brother, daughter, son).

Medically, the donor needs to have a blood group that is compatible with the patient, i.e., the same blood group. They shouldn’t be over fifty-five years of age, and need to be psychologically sound and medically fit. Any voluntary liver donor is thoroughly evaluated to ensure surgical and medical fitness.

3. The issue with cadaveric liver transplant in India

A serious lack of cadaveric organ donation has made cadaveric liver transplant less popular in India. Since, there is not enough awareness about organ donations in the country, living donor transplant is the main option that patients get. Now, liver transplant is one of the major surgeries and there is almost five to ten percent risk to life from the transplant procedure.

About ninety percent of the liver transplant recipients survive a year after their surgery. Long term rate of success, i.e., fifteen to twenty years, after liver transplant is about fifty-five to sixty percent. Most patients get to live a productive, healthy, and normal life after the transplant. But the outcome varies from one patient to another, and it can’t be generalized.

4. Patient care after undergoing the transplantation

Individuals who undergo liver transplant tend to need immunosuppressive medication (medications to prevent liver rejection) for life. Also, patients need to take care to ensure proper hygiene and avoid direct sunlight to prevent skin cancers and infections.

Usually, donors get discharged within ten days and the patients need two to three weeks to go home. Donors might go back to their regular activity within three to four weeks and start working their usual jobs within six weeks. Patients need about four to six months to recover. Any special precaution is not required for donors after six weeks, and they can live a normal life after that.

5. The number of liver transplants in India

Each year almost 60,000 patients need liver transplants in the country. But the mortality rate of liver diseases continues to be high due to the following reasons:

  • Lack of awareness regarding the facilities that are available
  • Lack of advanced infrastructure
  • The health conditions of the donor
  • High surgical cost
  • Lack of enough expertise

Annually, about 2,000 patients go through liver transplants at present.

The Endnote

Liver transplant considerably increases the chances of survival of the patient. So, it is important to talk to an experienced medical professional regarding the procedure right away to understand the suitability of the treatment for your condition.