Liver Transplant

Introduction

During a liver transplant, the damaged or diseased liver is replaced with a healthy liver retrieved from a donor. This procedure is performed in patients suffering from the end-stage liver disease. A liver transplant is conducted in three steps. Firstly, your condition is assessed by the doctor to ascertain your suitability for a liver transplant. Secondly, your name is put on the waiting list for a donor’s liver. Thirdly, you are admitted to the hospital for the transplant surgery.


When is it performed?

The medical experts conduct a transplant on account of liver failure, due to which toxins start to build up in the body. Liver failure may result due to an infection, drug-caused injury, or viral hepatitis. A chronic liver failure could arise due to primary biliary cholangitis, chronic hepatitis with cirrhosis, biliary atresia, sclerosing cholangitis, Wilson’s disease, and chronic alcoholism. In either of the cases, a liver transplant is needed. However, the procedure is conducted only when all alternative treatments available fail to work.


How is it performed?

In the case of a living donor transplant, a portion of the liver of a healthy person is removed and inserted into the patient’s body. After a few weeks, the liver segments of both the donor and recipient grow to normal size. In the case of a brain-dead or deceased donor transplant, the non-functional liver of the patient is replaced with the liver recovered from the recently deceased patient. The liver transplant surgery is conducted under the influence of general anesthesia and it takes around two to three hours to complete.


Recovery

The two complications associated with liver transplant surgery include rejection and infection. To prevent the body from rejecting the new liver, the doctors prescribe immunosuppressants. Also, other medications deemed suitable by the doctors are prescribed. Normally, you will be discharged from the hospital after a few days of the surgery. Before leaving the hospital, you will be advised on the signs of rejection and infection to look out for and when calling the doctor is important. After about five months of the transplant, the tubes that are inserted during the surgery are removed.