Liver is one of the vital and largest organs of the human body that serves as the powerhouse of energy as it produces:
- Glucose which is the basic sugar and source of energy
- Proteins which are the building blocks essential for growth
- Bile, a fluid stored in the gall bladder that is necessary for absorption of the fats and vitamins
- Blood clotting factor that aids in healing wounds
Being the largest organ of the human body, it is ideal for storage of essential substances like vitamins and minerals. It metabolizes and detoxifies the substances ingested by the body. Moreover, it also acts as a filter that removes impurities from the blood.
Liver transplantation is a complex and major surgical procedure which is done to replace the damaged or diseased liver with the healthy and normally functioning liver taken from the donor. Liver transplant is the second most commonly performed transplantation in the world after kidney transplant. It is indicated when the liver fails to perform its normal functions due to severe damage to the liver leading to is failure.
There are two types of liver transplant:
- Deceased liver donation: involves transplantation of liver that has been taken from the person who died recently.
- Living donor liver transplant: a section of liver is removed from the living donor and transplanted to the patient. As the liver has a tendency to regenerate itself, both the transplanted and the remaining part of the donor's liver can re-grow into the normal sized liver.
The liver transplant is the option left when all other lifestyle modifications and treatments have not prevented liver failure. Liver failure however, can happen slowly known as chronic liver failure or can happen suddenly called as acute liver failure.
Regardless of the type, liver failure can occur due to multiple causes but the most common cause for liver transplant is the liver cirrhosis which is characterised my chronic scarring of the liver mostly due to hepatitis virus infection or chronic alcohol abuse.
Several other common conditions for liver transplant are;
- Bile duct disease like biliary duct atresia
- Chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C infection
- Excessive iron in the body i.e. hemochromatosis
- Genetic disease like Wilson's disease
- Fatty liver disease
- Primary or early stage liver cancer
- Autoimmune liver disease
- Alcoholic liver disease.
If the patient is suffering from a liver failure but his heart, lungs, kidneys and immune system are strong enough to cope up with the surgery, if he is mentally and emotionally stable, if the patient has family and friends who can take care of the patient before and after the surgery and if a cadaveric or a living donor is available, the patient is considered good for the liver transplant.
Before the transplant surgery, both the patient and the donor are assessed and made to undergo a battery of tests to ensure that the donor is healthy enough to survive the surgery. The test includes blood testing and matching to check the compatibility. Various other tests and investigations includes EKG, Echo, Chest X-ray, Abdominal CT scan, CT Cholangiogram, physical assessment by a physician, hepatologist and psychological tests.
- Liver transplant surgery with living donor:
Liver transplant surgery is a major surgical procedure done under general anaesthesia and takes about 12 hours to complete.
The donor is operated first to remove either the left or right lobe of his liver. Once the donor liver is removed, the surgeon prepares for the transplant of the liver in the patient body.
For this, the surgeon makes an incision on the upper right part of abdomen in order to access the liver. The surgeon then cuts the essential blood vessels along with the bile ducts and removes the diseased liver. The failed and diseased liver is then replaced with the healthy liver from the donor and the blood vessels and biliary ducts are connected to the transplanted liver lobe. After complete transplant, the surgeon closes the incisions and the patient is shifted to ICU for recovery.
One can expect gratifying results after liver transplant surgery. Most of the patients resume their regular lifestyle after 6 months of successful liver transplant. If supplemented with healthy diet, regular exercise and medication, one can lead a healthy and active life after liver transplant.
After the surgery, the patient is moved to intensive care unit (ICU) for 5-6 days, after which he is shifted to the transplant care unit/room where he would stay for another 3 weeks. It is normal to experience some pain and discomfort which shall be controlled with medications. The doctor will keep a check for any signs of bleeding, infections or liver rejection. The patient is prescribed medicines to suppress immune system so that the body does not reject the new liver.
Recovery after liver transplant is very slow and long process that aims at steadily building the patient's health and fitness. It may take 6 months to resume normal daily activities.
One needs to stay in ICU for a week after the surgery and another 3 weeks in transplant care unit following which the patient is discharged from the hospital. However, donor will stay at the hospital for about a week.
One needs to come to India about 2 weeks prior the surgery for pre-operative assessment and stay for around 6-8 weeks post discharge. So a total of about 10-12 weeks are required for you to recover well after liver transplant surgery in India.
We encourage you to educate yourself about Liver Transplantation in India, and also the benefits from the right kind of liver transplantation surgery before making a choice.
You can be rest assured that with Surgicure International's expertise, we bring in a wonderful experience of liver transplantation surgery in India, which we have been doing so for almost a decade now.