Liver transplant is a highly advanced surgical procedure that is performed to help patients whose liver has been completely or partially damaged due to an underlying disease, infection or injury sustained in an accident. The procedure involves the replacement of the dysfunctional liver with a healthy lobe taken from a suitable donor. The liver is the largest gland in our body and is responsible for carrying out various vital functions. The normal functioning of the liver is important for a long and healthy life. Liver transplant is usually the last resort of treatment when medicines and therapies fail to give the desired results.
Liver transplant is majorly classified into two types depending upon the type of donor. If the liver lobe is taken from a living donor, the transplant is said to be a living donor liver transplant, however, if the lobe is taken from a deceased person, the transplant is known as a cadaveric liver transplant.
Major indications of Liver Replacement
Liver transplant is usually recommended to patients who are facing severe complications due to an end-stage liver ailment. Here are some major indications that may call for the need for a liver transplant:
Acute hepatic fulminant failure
Extrahepatic biliary atresia or hypoplasia
Congenital metabolic abnormalities
Hepatic vein thrombosis
How to prepare for the procedure?
Once you have found a suitable donor, you will be given a fixed date for the transplant. However, before initiating the procedure it is important to ensure that the patient is mentally and physically prepared for the procedure.
The doctors will perform some tests and screening to evaluate your overall health
The procedure will be explained to you briefly to make sure that you are well aware of all the benefits and potential complications
If you are on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, you will be asked to stop taking these a week prior to the surgery
You will be required to make some healthy changes in your diet and lifestyle to make sure you are fit for the surgery
Alcohol is strictly prohibited as even a small amount can lead to severe complications
Drink plenty of water before the surgery as this will help you to empty your bowels
How is the procedure performed?
The procedure is performed under the influence of anaesthesia such that the patient does not feel any pain or discomfort. The doctor will clean the area and make a long incision across your abdomen to access your liver. The location and size of the incision vary from patient to patient depending upon the type of approach followed. The damaged liver is carefully removed and replaced with the healthy lobe taken from the donor. The blood vessels and bile ducts are connected to the new liver. The whole procedure may last for as long as 12 hours.
What follows after the procedure?
After the procedure, the patient is kept under keen observation in the ICU for at least 24 hours. The patient is required to stay in the hospital for a week or two depending upon the overall progress. Before discharge, the patient is given a set of guidelines that are to be followed religiously:
Take the medicine prescribed by the doctor
Go for frequent health checks
Follow a healthy diet as recommended by your doctor/dietician
Strictly avoid alcohol
Do not indulge in rigorous activities.
Avoid activities that induce an unnecessary strain or pressure in the incision site
What are the benefits of a Liver Transplant?
The various benefits of liver transplant are as follows:
Improved quality of life
A chance at a longer life
Enhanced long term outcomes
Relief from pain and other symptoms
Are there any risks involved?
Just like any other medical procedure, there are certain risks associated with liver transplant as well. These include: