Liver transplant also known as hepatic transplant refers to the replacement of a defected liver with a healthy donor organ in the same location as the original one. It is considered when the liver is no longer functional, usually caused by acute liver failure or any kind of infection resulted from certain medications. Other conditions that require liver transplant are chronic hepatitis with cirrhosis, liver cancer, primary biliary cirrhosis, hemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease, etc. These are also the factors responsible for liver failure along with alcoholism.
A person suffering from a diseased liver, such as end stage liver cancer or any of the above mentioned conditions may require liver transplant due to the liver’s inability of functioning properly. The liver is the biggest internal organ of the body that produces all the necessary proteins and prevents scarcity of vitamins and minerals in the body. A person whose liver is not functioning adequately have high chances of developing a life threatening condition, hence liver transplant becomes necessary.
Treatment of liver transplant
Liver specialist first determines whether the patient really needs liver transplant or not by performing various medical tests such as computed tomography, echocardiogram, Doppler ultrasound, pulmonary function test and blood tests. Once it’s determined that the transplant is necessary, treatment procedure begins with finding a healthy liver.
Liver transplant is of two types – Living donor transplant and deceased donor transplant
In living donor transplant, a segment of a healthy liver is implanted into the recipient while in decease liver transplant, liver of a person, who is a victim of any accident and declared legally dead, used for transplant.
The whole procedure usually takes 6-12 hours where the surgeon removes the defected liver and replace it with the donor’s liver by making an upside down Y shaped incision on the belly. This is a major operation, hence several tubes are placed in the body to carry out body’s vital functions during the procedure and few days after the treatment. These tubes include a windpipe in the mouth for breathing assistance, a nasogastric (N/G) tube to drain secretions from the stomach, a catheter in the bladder to drain urine and additional tubes in the abdomen to drain fluid and blood. Sometimes, a special tube called T-tube is also placed to drain bile, which remains in the place for 4-5 months.
Liver transplant have two most common complications after the treatment – Rejection and Infection.
In rejection, the patient’s immune system may try to harm the new liver as it is designed to destroy foreign substances invading the body and doesn’t distinguish between the transplanted liver or invaders such as bacteria or viruses. Most of the patients with liver transplant suffer some degree of organ rejection for a few weeks after the treatment. Anti-rejection drugs help to defend against the immune attack.
Since anti-rejection drugs are necessary to prevent the new liver from immune attack, the patient is at higher risk of infections. Not all patients suffer from infections and these can easily be dealt.
Post operative care
The patient needs to return for appointment after a week or two of the treatment. A team of transplant coordinator and transplant surgeon along with a psychiatric will take a look at you.
The T-tube will be removed after five months in the same hospital, if inserted.
The patient will need to revisit the hospital after a year is completed, where your overall health will be recorded.
Liver Transplant in India is offered by most good hospitals. Cost of liver transplant in India varies from US$. 39000 to US$ 45000 depending upon patients specific medical condition.