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Liver Transplantation: Another shot at life

  • Posted on- Apr 05, 2016
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Livers are one of the most important organs in the body. They handle glycogen storage, protein synthesis, hormone production, detoxification, and the decomposition of red blood cells. Simply put, you cannot live without a liver. However, certain activities are known to damage the liver, such as long-term alcohol abuse and use of certain dietary supplements.

When your liver becomes too damaged to function properly, you are in serious danger. Your body's ability to eliminate toxins is greatly reduced, and over time your body begins to be poisoned from the inside. In general, the liver is a highly resilient organ that can actually repair itself, although in certain progressed cases of liver damage, a liver transplant is the only option.

The first successful liver transplant occurred in 1967, and the process was improved so dramatically by the 1980s that the procedure became a standard medical response to severe liver disease. Over a hundred medical facilities in the India alone now perform liver transplant, and the one-year survival rate of patients has increased.

Because there is a demand for new livers that outweighs the supply of livers (seeing that a healthy liver requires the death of the donor), there are certain conditions that preclude the procedure. If you have metastatic cancer, drug or alcohol dependency problems, and septic issues are issues which will cause your request for a liver transplant to be denied, while being HIV-positive is becoming more acceptable. Advanced age and serious heart disease also make it more difficult to obtain a liver transplant, although they do not completely preclude it.

Usually the damaged liver is removed from the patient, the liver being replaced with a healthy donor liver, which is fit into the same anatomic place from which the damaged liver was removed. This is called orthotopic transplantation. After the transplant, though, the liver will be rejected by the body unless immunosuppressive drugs are taken to prevent the body's immune system from attacking what it perceives as a dangerous foreign object. These pills have to be taken for the rest of your life to prevent death.

Who are the candidates for a liver transplantation?

According to medical findings, the liver can regenerate lost or damaged tissue naturally. In fact, it is the only internal organ that can self-repair and develop into a whole organ, provided that at least 25 percent of the original cells are retained. Despite this special feature, the liver is susceptible to several complications. Part of the reason is its position in the abdominal area and its role in metabolizing toxins. The prospective candidates for a liver transplant include those diagnosed with any of the following health conditions.

What are the criteria for a liver transplantation?

Other than the various tests and X-rays, there are also other factors which need to be considered before opting for liver transplantation. If the recipient is suffering from liver cancer, the transplantation can only be done if the cancer has not spread to other places. Patients suffering from hepatitis B, C, and D are also considered as ideal candidates for liver transplantation. When a patient suffers from cirrhosis of liver then there's a failure in the normal functioning of the liver and the person suffering from this disorder can be qualified to get a new liver. However, this purely depends on the overall health of the person.

What is the liver transplantation cost in India?

Don't determine the total cost of the liver transplant on the operational procedure alone. After you're done with your liver transplant procedure, there are various additional costs like post treatment check up every week or month, medications, progress report, organ recovery, hospital stay, monthly MRI and CT scans. The operation procedure would cost you around Rs 18-20 Lakhs at leading hospitals in India. The cost of investigations of the donor and recipient is Rs 2 Lakhs. When patients are too sick and require prolonged stay following liver transplantation, the cost of treatment can increase hence it is advisable to patients to have the liver transplantation before they develop complications secondary to the liver disease (Cirrhosis).

Risks associated with a liver transplantation

Sure a liver transplant can save you from dying but there are various liver transplant complications which can arise during and after the surgery. During the surgery the most common risks are infection and rejection of the liver your body may reject the new liver as your immune system is developed to reject or destroy foreign particles entering the body. There are high chances that your immune system will attack the healthy cells of the new liver because they are foreign. In such cases patients are administered with "immunosuppressants" which slow down your immune system. The good news is that chances of rejection are very low, in 50% cases of liver transplantation only 1 case of rejection is seen. There are higher chances of infection as the immunosuppressants have slowed down the activity of the immune system. Your new liver can be infected by harmful viruses, bacteria and protozoa which can cause infections.

There have been instances where the transplantation was successful with no side effects but the patient has suffered from various post liver transplant risks. Problems include difficulty in breathing, internal bleeding, constant feeling of dehydration and stomach bloating, jaundice, internal swelling, diabetes, severe headaches, reduction in bone size, etc.

A liver transplantation is certainly a complicated procedure and does have its own risks, but when your liver has failed, liver transplant is the only possible option for survival.


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18-02-2018 09:41 AM

My father went for a liver transplant in 2014, I am very happy with the results. He is totally fine now and living a happy life.

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08-08-2016 12:20 PM

One of my friend used to drink a lot, resulting in alcoholic liver disease. Doctor advised him to go through liver transplant and post operative results are very good.

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