The liver weighs about 3 pounds in an average adult but it plays a vital internal organ. The liver is positioned below the diaphragm on the right side of the abdomen with several pivotal functions such as:
- The production of the essential amino acids
- Helping the digestion and avoiding the shortage of important nutrients
- Synthesizing bile, which breaks down fats and absorbs fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K
- The production of blood clotting supplements which are important
- The detoxification of blood and fighting against infections.
When is a Liver Transplant Needed?
The transplantation of the liver is a surgical process that replaces a diseased or failing liver with a healthy and normal one. Presently, transplantation seems like the only cure for liver failure or insufficiency because there are no machine or device which can reliably perform all the functions which liver does. The End-stage liver failure is the major reason a liver transplant is required.
People with a requirement of liver transplant typically have one of the following conditions or the conditions which lead to liver failure:
- Chronic hepatitis with the cirrhosis
- The primary biliary cirrhosis
- Biliary atresia
- Major chronic alcoholism
- Wilson’s disease
- Deficiency of Alpha-1 antitrypsin
- Acute Liver Failure
- Metabolic Disorders
What are the tests recommended before a transplant?
- Matching Blood Group
- The Virology work up
- Computed CT, or tomography, Doppler ultrasound
- Echocardiogram for analyzing the heart-health status
- Lung function tests
- Blood tests
- Cancer work up just in case of liver cancers
- Kidney function tests
How is the Screening for Liver Transplant Donors done?
A rigorous evaluation for the existence of alcohol or drug abuse, liver disease, infections like AIDS, hepatitis, cancer etc is done in all the potential donors of the liver. The liver transplantation is only done for the patients with good mental status and aged between 18-55 years are voluntary with no major medical comorbidities. The important tests to determine the compatibility with recipients are:
- Blood type
- HLA testing
- CT scan to assess fat and volume
- MRI scan to assess bile duct (optional)
What are the treatment options?
There are two main types of liver transplant options which are:
- Living donor transplant
- Deceased donor transplant
The process for patients with an end-stage liver disease involves, a portion of the liver from a compatible donor who is healthy living is surgically implanted into the recipient. The partial livers grow and attain the required size in donor and recipient.
The deceased donors are usually cardiac dead or brain-dead patients. With the concurrence for donation and there is no medical contraindication then they can be potential liver donors.
Recovering from a liver transplant
Transplant is a part of the process involved in getting a new liver. The patient should stay three-week at the hospital after a transplant. During the stay, the doctors will evaluate your conditions after the operation and will provide your need for home care.
It may take more than one year to make you feel healthier after the transplant. The doctor will consult you with your mental and emotional health needs before discharging you from the hospital.
The liver transplant ought to maintain good hygiene at home as well as the office. They will require taking immune-suppressions for lifelong. The patients can lead a normal life with good personal care, following doctor’s advice, regular medications etc.
Healthy liver tips
After a liver transplant, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, including regular exercise and a healthy diet. You can incorporate habits like these at any stage to boost your strength and overall health. Being physically healthy may reduce your chances of transplant rejection.
The most common restricted things after a successful transplant:
- alcohol abuse
- acetaminophen overdose
- obesity and high cholesterol
However, the overall outcomes are very good for the liver transplantation, but it can vary significantly depending upon the indications for the transplant as well as other factors related to the donor. So, the overall survival rate after a year of transplant is 88 % and survival after five years is 73%.