Facts on Liver Transplant Surgery

The liver is one of the largest human organs and performs some crucial bodily functions related to metabolism, digestion and immunity. These functions are crucial for survival, and fortunately, the liver has the incredible capacity to regenerate damaged or dead cells. In fact, it is the only organ in the body that has the capacity to regenerate. However, some diseases are capable of destroying healthy liver cells, which can severely damage the liver. Then liver transplant becomes the only available option. If you find yourself in that situation, then you can opt for liver transplantation surgery.

Functions of Liver

The liver is in the right upper abdomen of the body. The liver performs a variety of tasks, including protein synthesis and the detoxification of chemicals sent to it by the intestines.

  • The liver is the body’s powerhouse. It is the primary organ of metabolism, which entails a series of chemical reactions, breakdown and synthesis along with the production of energy.
  • Food is converted by the liver into the chemicals required for life and growth.
  • The liver processes and eliminates drugs, alcohol, and other potentially toxic compounds produced by the body.
  • The liver creates substances required for dietary fat and vitamin absorption.
  • The liver also produces vital proteins required for healthy blood coagulation and muscular growth.
  • The liver keeps hormone balances in check.
  • It stores vital vitamins.

What is Liver Transplant?

A liver transplant is a surgical procedure where a healthy liver from one individual is used to replace a damaged liver of patient. Either the entire liver or just a portion of it can be transplanted. A healthy liver will typically come from a recently deceased organ donor. A portion of the liver can occasionally be donated by a healthy living individual. A relative or family member could be a living donor.

Or it can be a stranger with a compatible blood type but no family ties. People who donate a portion of their liver can continue to live healthy lives with the remaining liver. The liver is the only organ in the body that can regenerate tissue that has been destroyed or damaged (regenerate). Following the surgery, the donor liver size will soon return to normal.

Why is it done?

Some patients with liver cancer and those with liver insufficiency who are not responsive to other treatments may benefit from a liver transplant. Both gradual and abrupt liver failure is possible. An acute liver failure is liver failure that develops quickly, usually within a few weeks. Acute liver failure is a rare illness that typically results from side effects from particular drugs.

Although acute liver failure may be treated with a liver transplant, chronic liver failure is more frequently treated with this procedure. Over the course of months and years, chronic liver failure gradually develops. There are numerous disorders that can lead to chronic liver failure. Liver scarring is the most typical cause of chronic liver failure (cirrhosis).

Important Facts About Liver Transplantation

By the time you find out that you need a liver transplant, your liver might start to fail, and your quality of life may have deteriorated. You may have to experience the following symptoms:

  • Generally feeling tired and unwell all the time.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Very itchy skin.
  • Muscle wasting and loss of weight.
  • Whites of the eyes (jaundice) and yellowing of the skin.
  • Increased sensitivity towards drugs and alcohol.
  • Tender and enlarged liver. (below your right ribs, you may feel tender)
  • Blood vomiting.
  • Fever with high temperature and shivers.
  • Swelling of the tummy, lower abdomen or legs.
  • Periods of mental confusion.
  • Dark black tarry stools or pale stools are associatedthe with cholestatic disease.

How are Patients Determined for Liver Transplantation?

Evaluation of specialists from a variety of fields is needed to determine if liver transplantation is appropriate for you. The evaluation includes a review of the variety of tests and medical history. The transplantation team will arrange X-rays test, blood tests and other necessary tests.

It is done to help make the decision about whether you need a transplant and can be carried out safely. Other aspects of your health like lungs, heart, kidneys, immune system and mental health will also be checked.

Types of Liver Transplant

There are three types of liver transplantation:

  • Living donor liver transplantation – a section of the liver will be removed from a living donor because the liver can regenerate itself. Both the remaining section and the transplanted section of the donor’s liver are able to regrow into the normal-sized liver. 
  • Deceased organ donation – involves transplanting a liver that has been removed from a dead person.
  • Split donation – the liver is split into two pieces from a recently dead person, and then each piece is transplanted into a different person. It will then grow into a normal size.

Most liver transplantations are carried out using livers from the deceased person.

How Long would the Surgery Take?

Transplanting a liver typically takes 4 to 14 hours. Your liver will be removed during the procedure, and the donor liver will be used. Before removing the damaged liver, the doctor will cut it loose from your blood vessels and bile ducts. A machine or a blockade will be used to prevent blood from entering your liver and return it to the rest of your body.

The doctor will position the healthy liver and reattach it to your blood vessels and bile ducts. Your new liver will subsequently receive blood flow. Surgery teams will need to insert several tubes in your body because a transplant operation is a significant procedure. These tubes are essential for your body to do specific tasks both during the procedure and for a few days afterward.

Bottom Line

If you find the symptoms mentioned above in your body, then book an appointment with doctors and get a clear picture of your body. Enquire about the surgery process, cost of liver transplant, donor, and recovery process with your doctor.