Liver Transplant or Liver transplant surgery is a medical procedure which involves replacing a person’s diseased or malfunctioning liver with a healthy liver of a donor. In some cases, the whole liver is transplanted whereas in others, only a certain part of it may be transplanted. As we all know, liver is one of the most vital organs in the human body and its main purpose is metabolism of toxins and drugs and synthesis of vital enzymes and proteins.
In case of liver failure or liver insufficiency, liver transplant is the only way to save the person’s life since there are no machines or devices yet made which can perform the functions of this important organ. One may need the transplant surgery both in case of acute liver failure as well as chronic liver failure. This procedure is also commonly termed as hepatic transplantation.
Symptoms which suggest that you need Liver Transplant:
- As mentioned above, in case of acute and chronic liver failure, one
may need a liver transplant surgery.
- If a person has cirrhosis, he may show signs of inadequate liver
function which is also referred to as decompensated liver disease.
- The procedure is also recommended for those who have advanced liver
disease and even prolonged medical treatment and abstinence fail to
improve the health of the person.
- In children, biliary atresia is a common reason for liver transplant
procedure. It is a rare condition in which common bile duct lying
between the liver and the small intestine is absent or blocked.
- Liver cancer, benign liver tumors, genetic liver disorders are also
some of the other symptoms or signs which suggest that one may need
to undergo liver transplant.
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Pre procedure and preparation
One may need to follow certain steps in order to prepare for Liver Transplant and they are given as follows:
1. The first step of preparation involves Phase 1 evaluation which
helps you know if it is a suitable treatment option. This test
can take upto a day so it’s better to take someone with you for
3. If the tests indicate that you need the transplant, you will how to
apply for the donor and then wait while on the waiting list.
Liver transplant surgery mainly involves the removal as well as the implantation of the liver. Several connections have to be made perfectly to ensure proper function of the organ in the recipient’s body. Also, the procedure involves surgical operation of the living donor, if available. The following are the main procedure steps that take place during liver transplant:
1. The first step is incision which is followed by inspecting the
abdomen for any kind of abnormalities.
2. Now the next step involves removing the native liver along with all
of its connections from the body. This process is called
mobilization of the native liver. It also involves isolation of the
important structures including portal vein, bile duct and the
hepatic artery etc.
3. Now the new liver is sewed in. This is done by first re-establishing
the venous blood flow by connecting recipient’s and donor’s vena
cava and portal veins. Now the arterial flow is re established by
sewing the bile ducts of the donor and recipient.
4. Doctors or surgeons make sure that bleeding is controlled throughout
5. The incision is finally closed to complete the procedure. The entire
process may take upto 12 hours.
The following steps take place after the liver transplant surgery:
1. The patient is brought into the intensive care unit after the
surgical procedure where he/she is very closely monitored.
2. Patient is then transferred to the room if all goes well and doctors
may now allow eating and physiotherapy.
3. Blood tests and other tests may continue to take place.
Risks and complications
Liver transplant sure is a huge and serious medical procedure and it won’t be wrong to say that there are several risks and complications involved with it. The following are some of them that you should be aware of:
- The main risk factor is primary non function or poor function of the
new liver. If this situation doesn’t improve then the patient may
have to undergo a second transplant procedure urgently.
- Another complication associated with this procedure is hepatic artery
thrombosis or clotting of the hepatic artery. The risk of this
increases in case of living donor transplantation. If it happens,
another transplant may be recommended.
- Clotting of the large vein or portal vein thrombosis is also another
possible complication, though it occurs in rare cases.
- Biliary complications too can take place and two of the main problems
are biliary leak and biliary stricture.
- Bleeding too is a risk that cannot be ignored or overlooked. Those
who experience this may require transfusions after the surgery.
- Most surgeries pose a risk of infections and so does liver transplant
surgery. Infections can occur at the site of the wound or incision
and this may make the wound difficult to heal. Infections can also
take place within the abdomen.
A liver transplant surgery in India costs depends upon the whole or partial liver transplant procedure, it can cost anywhere between Rs 20-25 lakh for complete liver transplant whereas resection can cost between Rs 3 to 4 lakh.
Key global facts
The following are some key global facts about liver transplant:
- It is a fact that people who undergo a liver transplant have an 86%
chance of living after one year.
- The three year survival rate however is 78%.
- Cirrhosis is the most common reason why adults may need liver