The liver is the largest organ and is extremely critical for the proper functioning of the body. It performs multiple functions such as producing bio chemicals which are very important for digestion, protein formation, and immune responses regulation among others. However, similar to the other organs present in human body, the liver too can be affected by diseases.
Many times the diseases can be treated with the aid of medications but when other treatment options have failed, liver transplantation is performed by the doctors as the last resort. Liver transplant is a medical procedure whereby the damaged liver is replaced by a healthy liver obtained from a deceased donor. The doctors may also take a part of a liver from a living donor and replace it with the patient’s non-functioning liver. In a few weeks, the liver of both the patient and the donor attain its normal size.
Why is liver transplantation done?
If the liver is damaged, then a transplant becomes necessary because it is impossible for the body to function without the liver. Cirrhosis is one of the most serious ailments that can affect the liver. The disease leads the liver to malfunction because the scar tissues replace healthy liver tissues. Apart from this, there are many other diseases that can impact the working of the liver such as viral hepatitis, acute hepatic necrosis, biliary atresia, autoimmune hepatitis, primary liver cancers, etc.
The evaluation process
Our doctors at CARE Hospitals carry a comprehensive analysis and only if they deem it necessary will you be referred to the transplant center. Before undertaking the procedure you will have to undergo an evaluation process to determine whether you are fit for liver transplantation. The evaluation process is undertaken to ascertain whether you are in a condition to undergo surgery and do not have any medical condition that may hamper the transplant procedure.
The transplant center will advise you to undertake some tests like imaging tests, blood and urine tests, heart tests and a general health exam. The doctors will not perform a liver transplant on a patient who has serious heart problems, are alcoholics, have an untreatable chronic infection or have metastatic cancer among others.
Risks associated with liver transplant
Though liver transplant is a highly beneficial medical procedure and allows a person to live a happy and normal life, there are a few risks associated with it. Some of these include bleeding, infection, leakage of bile, blockage of the blood vessels to the transplanted liver etc. There are also high chances that the body’s immune system may reject the transplanted liver. For this, the doctors advise the patient anti-rejection medicines which need to be taken for the entire life.
What happens during the operation?
Liver transplant is a major procedure. It usually takes between 6 to 12 hours to complete the operation. During the procedure, a number of tubes will be inserted into the body of the patient. The surgeons at CARE will insert catheters in the wrist and the neck to obtain blood samples and to gauge the blood pressure and the condition of the heart. An IV line will be fitted in the arm. The catheter placed in the bladder will help to effectively drain the urine. A tube will also be placed into the patient’s windpipe through the mouth to help the patient breathe freely.
The operation involves removing the damaged liver and inserting the donor liver in its place. Prior to the removal of the damaged liver, it will be detached from the blood vessels and bile ducts by the doctors. Once this has been properly accomplished, the donor liver will be inserted in the place of the damaged liver. It will then be attached to the bile ducts and blood vessels to allow the smooth flow of blood to the transplanted liver.
What to expect after the procedure?
After the surgery has been completed, the patient will be shifted to the Intensive Care Unit of CARE. Here the patient will be kept under observation just to make sure that the liver is working and complications do not crop up.
It takes time to recover from a liver transplant. After the liver transplant operation has been done, the patient has to usually stay in the hospital for 10 to 15 days. However, in case of complications, the hospital stay of the patient may be extended.
Precautions to take:
Even after the patient has been discharged and returns home, certain precautions need to be taken. The patient will have to regularly meet the doctors and undergo certain blood tests for a few weeks. Doctors will prescribe medicines and advise the duration for which they have to be taken. Some medicines have to be taken for the entire life as these prevent the immune system from harming the transplanted liver or protect it from complications. Though you can get back to your normal routine just a few months after the operation, it usually takes around 6 months for the patient to fully recover.
The patient needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle and eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet which will make the transplanted liver strong. The patient also needs to ensure that he or she remains hydrated. The patient also needs to exercise regularly to keep his or her liver in good condition.
CARE Hospitals is a trusted name and comprises state-of-the-art infrastructure along with a well-qualified team of doctors which is capable of undertaking any kind of transplant.