Weighing about 3 pounds in an average adult, the liver is a vital internal organ. It is located below the diaphragm on the right side of the abdomen and has several crucial functions like:
- Production of essential amino acids
- Helping in digestion and avoiding shortage of important nutrients
- Synthesising bile, which in turn breaks down fats and absorbs fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K
- Production of important blood clotting supplements
- Detoxification of blood and fighting infections.
When is a Liver Transplant Needed?
Dr. N Selva Kumar says, End-stage liver failure is the reason why a liver transplant is indicated. The following conditions lead to liver failure:
- Chronic hepatitis with cirrhosis
- Primary biliary cirrhosis
- Biliary atresia
- Chronic alcoholism
- Wilson's disease
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
- Acute Liver Failure
- Metabolic Disorders
What are the tests recommended before a transplant?
- Blood Group matching
- Virology work up
- Computed tomography, or CT, Doppler ultrasound
- Echocardiogram for analyzing heart-health status
- Lung function tests
- Blood tests
- Cancer work up in case of liver cancers
- Kidney function tests
How is the Screening for Liver Transplant Donors done?
A thorough evaluation for the presence of liver disease, alcohol or drug abuse, cancer, or infections like AIDS, hepatitis etc is done in all potential liver donors. Also, liver transplant is done for patients who have a good mental status, 18-55 years, are voluntary, and have no major medical co-morbidities. Following this, they are screened for few important tests to determine compatibility with the recipients. These are:
- Blood type
- HLA testing
- CT scan to assess the volume and fat
- MRI to assess bile duct (optional)
What are the treatment options?
The two main types of liver transplant options are:
- Living donor transplant
- Deceased donor transplant
In patients with an end-stage liver disease, a portion of liver from a compatible healthy living donor is surgically implanted into the recipient. Within few weeks, the partial livers grow and attain the required size in both donor and recipient.
Deceased donors are often brain-dead and cardiac dead patients. If there is consent for donation and no medical contraindication, they can be potential donors.
All liver transplant patients need to maintain good hygiene at office and home. They need to take lifelong immune-suppressions. With good personal care, doctors’ advice, regular medications, they can lead a normal life.