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A liver transplant is a surgical procedure by which a surgeon replaces a dysfunctional or damaged liver with a healthy one. Either a part of liver or whole liver is transplanted, according to the indication of the transplant.
In most cases, liver is taken from a deceased donor. It is also possible to take a part of liver from living donor. Since liver is the only organ in the body which can regenerate to increase its size, a part of liver when transplanted in the body rebuilds to the normal size liver within few weeks.
Liver transplantation is done only when the patient is critically ill becasue of liver failure. Main causes of liver failure include
In the following cases liver transplant may not pe performed:
After the patient is declared as the candidate for liver transplant, the surgeon will recommend the following tests
After the tests, the surgeon will discuss issue a letter that will allow you to be on the waiting list to get liver from deceased donor.
The surgeon will also discuss the possibility of getting a part of the liver from family or friend. Finding a compatible donor is the most important thing to do before liver transplant.
Once the liver is available for the transplant:
The team that performs a liver transplant comprises two or more surgeons, hepatologist, anesthesiologists, trained paramedical staff (transplant nurses & support staff).
Liver transplant procedure is a complex procedure of approximately 6 to 12 hours performed under general anesthesia. During the procedure:
After the procedure, the patient is closely observed in the ICU – Pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate, temperature, oxygen saturation, etc are monitored at regular intervals.
After the surgery, the patient can expect
Blood tests are done to ensure the post surgery recovery of the patient. The tube in the lungs is removed after few hours or few days. The other tubes in the throat, urinary bladder are also removed after few days.
The patient will be allowed to take clear fluids after the condition stabilizes, followed by soft diet and normal diet. The patients are advised to move and walk around as much as possible.
The patient can go home in 10 to 15 days after the surgery.
Immunosuppressants and blood thinning medications will have to be taken for the rest of the life.
Liver transplant is a complex surgery, and has significant risks and complications:
Immunosuppressants and blood thinning medications may have the following side effects