Liver Transplant

Liver is the second largest organ in the body that engages in detoxification of chemicals, drugs, protein synthesis, and glucose regulation in the body. Liver is the only organ inside the human body with a potential to regenerate after a chemical or surgical insult. Even after a reduction to 25% of its size, the liver can completely regenerate by growing in size and function. Despite this amazing ability of this organ, various diseases can lead to a complete destruction. Alcoholic liver cirrhosis, carcinoma of the liver, genetic disorders and hepatitis infections are some of the deadly diseases that can damage the liver beyond repair. Patients with liver dysfunction face potential crisis in health, developing yellowish discoloration (Jaundice) of skin, fluid collection in abdomen, decreased appetite, weight loss, diarrhoea, bleeding gums, and decreased cognitive function when there is excess toxin accumulation.

Unlike kidney failure, liver failure does not have a side-way modality of treatment like haemodialysis. Organ transplantation is the only treatment available for survival. A liver transplantation is a procedure that replaces diseased liver of a patient with a whole from dead donor or partial healthy liver from a living donor. The newly transplanted liver will take over the functions of the pre-existing diseased liver.

Who can Donate?

According to Transplant of Human Organs Act (THOA) 2014, liver can be transplanted from:

  • Cadaveric Donors – Harvesting a healthy liver from a brain dead, cardiac death patient.
  • Live donors who are near relatives – spouse, parent, children, grandparents, siblings. A part of liver can be taken from the donor to transplant into the recipient without major risk to donor. With the property of regeneration, both the livers can gain good functionality in few weeks.

What is the Procedure?

Donors are initially assessed for liver quality, quantity and medical fitness. Various clinical tests are performed to ensure maximum compatibility between the donor and the recipient. After thorough evaluation, the procedure is planned. Liver is harvested from the donor through surgery. Segmental anatomy and advanced techniques now enable safe harvesting of a part of liver from living donor. Recipient liver is removed, and the newly harvested liver/segment is transplanted into the recipient. Recipient is then put on immunosuppression drugs to prevent rejection and a regular follow-up to ascertain the functioning status of the newly transplanted liver. On an average, the complete process till discharge of a patient takes up to 2 weeks. The patient is scheduled for frequent follow up to assess the current status of the transplanted liver.

What is the Success Rate?

Liver transplantation is the second most commonly performed transplant surgery. India is in the forefront of live donor transplantation in the world with survival rates exceeding better than most developed countries in the world. More than 1500 liver transplantation takes place in India annually with 3-year survival rates of greater than 88%.