Liver Transplant Surgery - Who Should Go For It?

Written and reviewed by
M. Ch.(HPB Surgery & Liver Transplant), FEBS, MBBS, MS - General Surgery
Liver Transplant Surgeon, Faridabad  •  20years experience
Liver Transplant Surgery - Who Should Go For It?

The liver is the largest internal organ in our body which performs multiple functions and it is the only gland that can regenerate quickly when it is healthy. The main role of the liver is to clean and filter blood coming via digestive tract previous to it flows to remaining body parts. Liver failure results in reduced ability of blood clotting, thereby causing severe problems in case of injuries. Apart from that, alcohol and viruses are also significant factors that stop the liver from functioning properly.

Liver Transplantation
Liver Transplantation enables even the people at the final stage of liver failure to lead longer and happier life. The success rate of Liver transplantation has increased drastically due to advanced surgical techniques. Liver transplant is the best option when the liver is damaged partially or entirely. It is a surgery that involves replacing a failed liver in a recipient with a healthy liver of a donor.

Who should go for it?
The main cause of liver failure in infants is Biliary Atresia. This occurs when bile ducts are absent or partially/fully blocked. Whereas in adults, liver disease is caused due to Cirrhosis - a condition in which liver is scarred and becomes dysfunctional in the worst case. Most common reasons for Cirrhosis are Hepatitis B and C, genetic disorders, alcohol consumption, toxic metals and obesity. One should immediately seek advice from a doctor when he/she suffers from following symptoms:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Nausea
  3. Weakness
  4. Weight loss
  5. Jaundice
  6. Fever
  7. Abdominal Pain
  8. Itchy Skin

Liver Transplantation Surgery
Two kinds of the liver transplant are available:

  • Deceased donor transplant 
  • Living donor transplant

There are not enough deceased donor livers available to match all the liver transplant needs. Any living donor with a matching liver can donate a part of their organ to the person undergoing the liver transplant. As the liver can regenerate itself to its normal size in healthy people within a few months, there are no side effects of donating a part of the liver. A thorough physical and mental health examination will be performed for both the donor and the recipient to ensure that they can cope with the process and are aware of the risks involved. This includes psychological tests and blood tests. Patients are added to a waiting list as per their priority score. The score is assigned to a patient based on three blood samples creatinine, bilirubin and INR.

The priority score is termed as MELD (model of end-stage liver disease) in adults and PELD (pediatric end-stage liver disease) in children. The patient cannot undergo liver transplant if he/she has contracted cancer in any other part of the body or is suffering from heart disease or severe infections.

During the liver transplantation procedure, the surgeon removes some part of the liver from a donor and replaces damaged liver in the recipient with it. Both recipient's and donor's liver re-grow rapidly and reach normal size within months. As per statistics, recipients who receive the liver from living donor have a higher survival rate than those who receive it from deceased donors.

After surgery, both donor and recipient should maintain healthy and clutter-free life and follow strict diet rules and get vaccinated as per the chart provided by the doctor. They also need to avoid consumption of alcohol entirely and talk to a medical practitioner before taking any medications.


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