Everything You Need To Know About Liver Transplant

Function of Liver

The Liver, the brownish triangular organ which normally weighs 1-1.5kg and located on the top right hand side of the abdominal cavity below the rib cage, carries out almost 500 different functions which makes it the most important part of the human body.

It is the factory and the store that makes protein and products which are helpful with digestion and energy release. It also carries the function of purifying blood, byproducts of digestion, alcohol and drugs.

Symptoms of Liver Diseases

The liver generally deteriorates over a long period of time and unfortunately 50 percent of the liver disease cases show no specific symptoms of their deteriorating status. Few of the uncommon symptoms are weakness, occasionally itching and uneasiness.

Along with that, there are few prominent signs of liver diseases; jaundice/ yellowing of eyes and skin, dark urine, bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract, mental instability, retaining of fluids in the belly or abdomen.

Cirrhosis of Liver

The liver is the only organ which has the capacity to regenerate itself up to 75 percent of damaged tissues by new cells.

Cirrhosis of the liver occurs when the organ becomes unable to regenerate and hardened enough to not function properly. It arises mostly because of taking alcohol in a huge amount for a very long time, viral infection (Hepatitis B & C) or due to fatty liver. It can only be treated by liver transplantation.

Liver Transplant

In liver transplant, the surgeon replaces the diseased liver with a healthy liver. It is commonly done for those patients who are suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, acute liver failure (in which the livers gets damaged within few days due to poisoning or drug toxicity and viral hepatitis) and liver tumors (HCC).

Types of Liver Transplant

There are generally two types of liver transplant;

Deceased Donor Liver Transplantation (DDLT)

It is a liver transplant in which the diseased liver is replaced with a healthy liver from a donor who has recently died.

Patient who are wishing to undergo a DDLT have to go through a few tests to ensure that they are fit enough for liver transplantation, after which they will get registered and enrolled onto the waiting list in transplant center.

The liver comes from that donor who becomes ventilator dependent after an accident or a major damage to the brain. As soon as the support from the ventilator is withdrawn, the person will die. In such case, the relative of the donor will make the decision about donating the liver and saving someone else’s life.

As soon as the donor become brain-dead, the liver is put on extensive tests to ensure that it doesn’t  pose any threat to the recipient’s health. After which the liver is removed and placed under refrigeration in sterile fluid until the suitable recipient from the waiting list is called for the transplant.

Living Donor Liver Transplantation (LDLT)

In LDLT, the organ is donated to the patient from a living relative who should be healthy with a well-suited blood type and of age group between 18 to 50. In this transplant, a part of the recipient’s liver (cirrhotic liver) is replaced with that of the donor’s liver. Due to regeneration capability, both the livers of the recipient and the donor will grow to its normal sizes within a few weeks.

The basic advantage about LDLT is that the recipient can undergo early transplant without any wait. But the disadvantage is that the healthy liver has to undergo a major operation.

The Surgery

The liver transplant often takes six to ten hours in which the recipient is admitted the night before the surgery. Then the patient will go under a procedure in which the diseased liver gets replaced with the healthy liver.

Post Transplantation

Living under intensive care in the hospital for 3 weeks, medicines will be provided to prevent infection and rejection of the new organ by the immune system. Routine follow-up will be required after the discharge, which will be recommended by the doctor to prevent complications of the transplantation. The patient can get back to his normal routine with some changes in the lifestyle, as per the physician’s recommendations.

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