Liver plays an important role in our body by supporting our digestive system. It not only produces bile but also releases essential enzymes. It also helps us in maintaining our metabolism and stores glycogen, vitamins minerals and other nutrients.
Why would I need a liver transplant?
The liver is one of the organs in our body which has the ability to heal itself but in some cases it might fail to do so. Liver transplantation might be advised by a doctor in case of acute or chronic liver failure which may be caused by ingestion or poisoning, drug reaction, viral infection, fluid retention, jaundice, encephalopathy or gastrointestinal bleeding.
What does the procedure of liver transplantation involve?
A liver transplant refers to transplant of failed liver from a healthy liver. The transplant may be done on full or partial liver depending on the severity of the ailment. It is an open surgery, where a doctor makes an incision to remove the diseased liver and transplant the healthy one.
What are the risks?
Though, the liver transplant surgery is conducted after doing required tests on the donor and receiver but sometimes the body may refuse to accept a foreign organ.
Living Donor Liver Transplantation
A living donor transplant involves removal of a portion of a healthy donor’s liver and transplanting it into a recipient whose liver no longer functions normally. Post-surgery, the donor’s remaining liver regenerates itself. On the other hand, the partial livers of both the donor and recipient remodel themselves to form complete organs. To undergo a living donor transplant, both the donor and the recipient must have a thorough health and psychological evaluation.
Deceased (Cadaveric) Donor Liver Transplantation
Deceased donors, or cadavers, are a common source of transplantation. A liver can be transplanted from patients who are brain dead and have been deemed as a potential donor. Normally, young patients who die due to accidents are considered suitable donors. After the donor is declared legally dead, their liver is removed, preserved and their body’s blood supply is maintained artificially. In such cases, transplantation must take place within 24 hours.
Pediatric Liver Transplantation
A liver transplant is usually recommended for children who have serious liver dysfunction, or when all other treatments have been exhausted to save a child’s liver. During the treatment, the child’s liver is removed and replaced with a healthy liver from another person. Transplants are commonly done in case of liver diseases such as biliary atresia. Most children stay in the hospital for a couple of weeks. During this time, children and their families learn how to take precautions and follow doctors’ instructions.