Everything You Need To Know About Liver Transplant

Posted On Dec 24, 2019

Department of

Manipal Hospitals

The liver is one of the most important organs of the human digestive system. Liver disorders encompass mild to severe ones. When no other medication and treatment can fix your condition, liver transplantation becomes the last and only treatment option. Most times, complete liver failure is what demands a liver transplantation.

Liver failure is that stage when most of the liver gets damaged and is beyond the scope of any possible repair. Such a liver stops functioning and this leads to a life-threatening situation that requires immediate medical attention. Liver failure is not an overnight disease (acute liver failure being an exception). This occurs gradually and over a period of multiple years.

Causes of Liver failure which calls for liver transplantation:

  • Viral attack: Hepatitis viruses like, A B, C, etc. can infect the liver, which if not treated at the appropriate time will lead to liver failure.
  • Alcohol poisoning: Regular and long-term alcohol abuse may lead to liver failure
  • Cirrhosis: Severe scarring of the liver (due to toxins that affect the liver) is known as liver cirrhosis. This is usually the last stage of any severe liver disease and liver transplantation is the only cure for it.
  • Hemochromatosis or iron overload: This is a genetic disorder that causes damage to the liver by absorption of excessive iron.
  • Infectious mononucleosis: Another viral disease caused by the EBV virus. Extreme cases of this disease can cause severe liver damage (rare).

Symptoms of liver failure that prompts liver transplant:

  1. Defective fat metabolism: This includes increased levels of LDL and triglycerides, fat deposition in other organs, obesity, fatty lumps on the skin, excessive fat deposition in the upper abdomen area, fatty liver, etc.
  2. Frequent digestive disorders: Pain in the liver area, irritable bowel syndrome, gall bladder diseases, indigestion problems, bloating in the abdomen, intolerance to alcohol and fatty foods, nausea and vomiting, etc.
  3. Physical signs and symptoms: skin rashes and itchy skin, yellow eyes, bad breath, discolored tongue, sweating and bad body odor, brown blemishes on the skin, etc.
  4. Other symptoms: a headache, mood swings, increased body heat, depression, unstable blood sugar levels, fatigue, allergies, etc.
  5. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH): Fat deposition in liver cells results in inflammation that scars the liver. Risk factors for this disease include diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity.

Treatment for liver damage: Liver transplant

Liver transplantation involves the replacement of a damaged liver with a part of a liver or a new and complete healthy liver from a donor. This is a major surgery and requires proper post-operative treatment and care for quick recovery.

After a liver transplantation, the first three months require critical attention and supportive medication.  Some of the doses of medication are determined according to the weight of the patient.

Some of the most common medications that are prescribed after a liver transplant include:

Cyclosporin, Tacrolimus, Prednisone, Azathioprine, Sirolimus, Acyclovir, etc. Primarily the medication regime includes drugs like immunosuppressants, antibiotics and antiviral medicines to treat/prevent organ rejection and further infections respectively.

Liver failure is a serious and life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical care. With effective treatment through a liver transplant and good post-operative care, the patient has a better chance of recovering and leading a healthy life.

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