Being told that your child needs a liver transplant may be scary but the truth is that this surgery has a very high success rate. Most children who have had a liver transplant lead long, healthy lives. Here are 10 facts you should know about pediatric liver transplants.
Fact 1 - Liver transplant is usually the last resort.
Doctors advise a liver transplant only when medication and other types of therapies fail to provide desired results. Hence, do not ignore the doctor’s advice if they say the child needs a transplant.
Fact 2 - A liver biopsy may be needed before a liver transplant
Not every child is a viable candidate for a liver transplant. Hence, a biopsy is usually conducted to check the child’s candidacy for the transplant.
Fact 3 - Children are scored along the MELD and PELD system to determine the urgency of a transplant
This stands for the Model for Endstage Liver Disease (MELD) scoring system and Pediatric End-stage Liver Disease (PELD) scoring system. The higher the score, the more urgent the need for a transplant.
Facts 4 - It may take a while for a donor liver to become available
Most donor livers come from recently deceased persons. Depending on the urgency of the child’s condition, the child will be placed on the waiting list for a donor liver. This can take anywhere from a few days to a few months.
Fact 5 - The only part of a healthy liver is transplanted to the child.
In the case of children, only part of the liver is transplanted as their liver has not yet reached its full size. Often a healthy liver will be partially transplanted to a child and partially transplanted to an adult.
Fact 6 - The child’s family members can donate part of their liver for a child’s liver transplant.
Family members with the same blood type can donate part of their liver to the child.
Fact 7 - Liver transplant surgery is performed under general anaesthesia.
This surgery is performed while the child is under general anaesthesia and hence he or she will not feel anything during the procedure.
Fact 8 - Your child may have to be hospitalized for a few weeks post-surgery
Children are usually hospitalized for a few weeks after the surgery so that the doctor can keep an eye on how the body is reacting to the new organ.
Fact 9 - There is a chance your child’s body may reject the donor organ
In some cases, the child’s body identifies the transplanted organ as an antibody and rejects it. Medication can help reduce the risk of this happening.
Fact 10 - Regular check-ups are needed after a transplant
Check-ups are required to check for any complications that may arise post-surgery. Eventually, this is needed only once or twice in the year.